Black Space Riders – Amoretum Vol. 1 (2018) REVIEW

This first volume of Germany’s finest progressive space rockers’ loving arboretum of warm, effortless indie rock-infused ‘prog-stoner’ music is their most accessible and varied release to date. ‘Amoretum Vol. 1’ simply feels like a radio-ready version of Black Space Riders that had been hinted at in their previous record ‘Refugeeum’ but here on planet Amoretum the sound of things fully embraces modern rock and metal music. The whole ‘modern progressive stoner rock’ thing would never have much traction if Black Space Riders were a retro group cramming old ideas and musical forms into safer mainstream ideas; Groups with lesser sense of melody such as Baroness and Torche have made similar attempts with less than half of the results. Instead the songwriting on ‘Amoretum Vol. 1’ barely reaches outside the past 20 years for inspiration and as a result it might be the most refreshing modern rock record of the last decade.

From the lumberjack riffs and shimmering leads of “Lovely Lovelies” to the Mission: Impossible ah via The Pineapple Thief and Terra Firma of “Another Sort of Homecoming” there isn’t much to compare Black Space Riders to in recent memory no matter how hard I Google it. I mean if U2‘s Bono has decided that modern rock music doesn’t have a set of balls then he hasn’t spent any time with ‘Amoretum Vol. 1’ yet. The standout track for me is “Movements” in how it builds and swells up towards a rousing Hot Water Music-esque verse and then peaks and releases a series of Minus the Bear circa ‘Planet of Ice’ style outbursts throughout it’s 8 minute mountain. The album is a refined and modern trip through Black Space Riders’ best and most memorable ideas. It seems like such a wild paradigm shift with no real explanation beyond the exit of their long-standing bassist. I wouldn’t say that the mediocre moments left with him, but it does seem like this album was written with greater freedom and ambition than anything they’ve done previous.

I’m admittedly far from a modern rock expert and sample bands sparingly. So a lot of what adds personality to this album was initially off-putting. The vocalists range is excellent but the underlying melodrama of his tone goes from Gothic sex machine to heroin-flogged 90’s rocker from song to song and it took a couple of listens before I was sold. I’ve convinced myself I’m simply ignorant of where rock music is in 2018 and that surely there are mainstream bands making this kind of music to great success. Weeks of searching for modern progressive rock bands, prog/space rock bands that aren’t retro, and listening to endless comparable German projects have yielded nothing. So, for all of my research Black Space Riders are doing something genuinely modern, interesting and accessible off the backs of nobody. ‘Amoretum Vol. 1’ is as I said before, one of the better rock records I’ve heard in the last decade and no amount of ‘prog stoner/space rock’ genre tags will accurately describe how different it is than anything else lumped into such a category.

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Artist Black Space Riders
Type Album
Released January 26, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp! Follow Black Space Riders on Facebook
Genres
Progressive Space Rock, Stoner Metal, Psychedelic Rock

Burn him down to the ground. 4.0/5.0

 

 

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