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Beelzefuzz : The Righteous Bloom

If heavy, groovy, original psychedelic hard rock puts a stupid grin on your face, Beelzefuzz' sophomore is for you.

Somewhere out there on YouTube, someone with excess time on their hands has cut together dance clips from 1970s episodes of the US series "Soul Train" as an accompaniment to the demo version of Beelzefuzz' 'Hardluck Melody' (the full studio version of which takes up the third track on their latest album 'The Righteous Bloom'). I urge anyone interested to have a watch – it put me in a good mood for an entire day: a procession of the coolest cats ever to grace the airwaves, strutting, gyrating and owning every inch of the entire north American landmass in some of the best outfits the world has known.
It would make my life much easier if those images could be beamed directly to the reader as an explanation of how listening to 'The Righteous Bloom' feels. It is so cool, so groovy, that it oozes out of the speakers like a great funky purple wave - its soulful reverberations curing arthritis and torn rotator cuffs wherever its massaging ripples run, lubricating hips and penetrating deep into dry and dusty joints.

The influences that Beelzefuzz bring to the party are not hard to discern – I imagine that these guys have record collections stuffed with P-Funk, old Stax records and 70s hard rock and heavy psych classics. Alongside shades of George Clinton there is an obvious debt to Deep Purple, particularly the 'Stormbringer'/Tommy Bolin-era. There is also a large helping of vintage Uriah Heep, and Dana Ortt's vocals recall both David Byron and Glenn Hughes at their most 'feminine' (which, to these ears anyway, is a wondrous thing that should be encouraged). First track 'Nazriff' is a strong opener, a fantasia on Sabbath's 'Lonely is the Word' with Zeppelin top-notes scattered all over it. Elsewhere, hints of early Rainbow are splashed liberally throughout, and the Technicolor ghosts of Vanilla Fudge and Iron Butterfly hover overhead…

Nevertheless, Beelzefuzz just about transcend their 70s influences, melding a properly heavy bottom end to swirls of carnivalesque organ that lift the music and add texture across the eleven tracks on offer. Here and there, the odd, arcane jangle of folky guitar provides - on tracks like 'Within Trance' and 'Dying on the Vine' - a gypsy sheen, that propels the listener into the star-strewn firmament, awash with astrological signs and mystic portents, before bringing him or her back to earth with some righteous pelvic-thrust of a riff. Elsewhere, on slower tracks like 'Nebulous', a heavy fug of narcotic smoke descends , and the drugged-out waltz beat drags the music around in a dark, sludgy, hippopotamus dance. This is sophisticated song-writing, and is maintained to an impressive level of quality: thought has clearly gone into crafting these songs.

There are some downsides. The album feels longer than it is (47 mins), which is not generally a good sign, and the second half (particularly after the strong opening trio of songs) drags on the first few listens (I can't exactly put my finger on why this is – it may be down to an overall flatness of pace, or a tendency to rather overuse the waltz beat). And although the production is generally good – warm and organic, with a satisfyingly growly Hammond sound and a beefy fuzzed out guitar tone – the vocals sit rather too high in the mix. This is a shame, as Ortt's voice is a definite strength (hence, presumably, its prominence), but the dominant upper register grates at high volume – an unfortunate disincentive to cranking the dial.

These, however, are minor grumbles about what is, overall, a very fine release. 'Doom' it is not, but if heavy, groovy, original psychedelic hard rock puts a stupid grin on your face, then this is for you, my friend.

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Reviewer's rating: 8/10


Tracklist :
01. Nazriff
02. The Soulless
03. Hardluck Melody
04. Rat Poison Parfait
05. Eternal Waltz
06. Within Trance
07. Nebulous
08. The Righteous Bloom
09. Sanctum & Solace
10. Dying On The Vine
11. Peace Mind

Duration : Approx. 47 minutes

Visit the Beelzefuzz bandpage.

Reviewed on 2017-01-17 by Tom Williams
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