Sunday, November 9, 2008

British Bands That Should Have Kept Going

Being obsessed with different bands during my youth, I was always saddest when one of them would decide to break up. For example, Bush. Not the greatest band of our time by any means, but when they decided to disband I was struck by immense sadness; their time had come.

Sometimes it’s for the best, other times, not.

I now bring to you some of my favourite British bands that decided to disband, right before they were supposed to hit the big-time.

Captain Beyond (1971-1977):



Captain Beyond is perhaps one of the earliest examples of a “supergroup” in rock music. Consisting of lead singer Rod Evans (who previously sang for Deep Purple), guitarist Larry “Rhino” Reinhardt and bassist Lee Dorman (who were part of Iron Butterfly), Captain Beyond laid out the foundation for space/progressive 70’s rock. Add drummer Bobby Cadwell from Johnny Winter to the mix and the psychedelic recipe for success is complete.

Releasing their self-titled LP during 1972, their debut is a complete knockout. Incorporating all that is space-rock with loads of phaser, delay and reverb, Captain Beyond supply listeners with a marriage between Jimi Hendrix and the milky-way constellation. It is relentless, rocking out riffs after riffs right till the end. But there is surprisingly also loads of room for softer, more ethereal touches that supplement the hard rock that drives the album. Even though all the songs flow into each other, the album is a cohesive piece of work, and a stunning debut.

Unfortunately, Captain Beyond is with us no more (even though they released an EP in 2000), but their memory remains in their 2 most successful albums; Captain Beyond and Sufficiently Breathless.

SikTh (2001-2008):



SikTh are possibly one of the craziest bands that ever existed. Perhaps a better word would be insane. Whatever you feel like labelling them as, SikTh remain as one of Britain’s most impressive additions to the world of demented metal.

SikTh thrive on the disturbing and the silly. Combining Metalcore with the now dead Nu-Metal, Sikth are an amalgamation of Hardcore, Metal and Rock. They are extremely technical, using their fret/drumming abilities in unusual ways. The songs stutter and run in different directions all at the same time, sounding more like Mr. Bungle than Converge.

The band consists of two vocalists, Mikee Goodman (who also writes the silly/insane lyrics) and Justin Hill. The pair literally compete in a marathon of singing, screaming, growling, scatting, rapping and (surprisingly) also spoken word poetry. It is an amazing feat to behold. The guitars (Graham “Pin” Pinney, Dan Weller) are top-notch, using off-beat, stuttering rhythms and insanely fast shredding to compliment that whirlwind atmosphere of destruction.

On their second (and sadly last) album Death of a Dead Day, the band seems tighter than ever before. The songs catapult to one another, unleashing a barrage of noise towards the listener. This is the sound of a band in their element; silly, disturbing, frantic, vicious and jagged. It is here that they finally escape their metalcore roots (or preconceptions) and embrace a sound all their own. This is more Mathcore than any Metalcore out there. This is The Dillenger Escape Plan, at a circus, on Red-Bull.

Sadly, they too are no longer with us, announcing their break-up in 2008.

Black Widow (1969-1973):


Black Widow are a paradoxical sound if there ever was one.

Originally founded as Pesky Gee!, playing blues rock in the 60’s, Black Widow released their first album Sacrifice in 1970. Often mistaken for the seminal heavy metal band Black Sabbath, Black Widow’s music is far removed from heavy, slow rock riffs, sounding more like a psychedelic Jethro Tull, with flutes and all.

However, they contracted a fair amount of controversy for their obsession with the occult and the satanic. Consulting famous witches (such as Alex Sanders) to having mock human sacrifices on stage, their wild stage-show was a seminal breakthrough for shock-rock artists such as Marilyn Manson and Alice Cooper.

Perhaps most famous for their debut Sacrifice, the album is an absolute pleasure to listen to. Almost at once the scene is set for the dramatic and operatic vocals of Kip Trevor, sounding like an off-key drunk; Trevor throws his voice all over the album. At times quite emotional, but mostly quite intense, Trevor is the satanic preacher to the acid-heads of the 60’s who wanted something less flower-power, and more rebellious. The organs pound out layers of 60’s and 70’s progressive rock and are quite prominent throughout, while the amazing rhythm section provides the backbone to this “Frankenstein” of psychedelic rock.

Black Widow disbanded in 1973.

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