1977 and after scraping the Homegrown project, Neil Young released some of that material on “American Stars ‘n Bars.” This outstanding record is among one of my favorite Neil Young records. So you when I saw this on vinyl, I quickly picked it up. His backing band Crazy Horse is aided by the Bullet Band.
The result, is an record that pulls from the heaviness of Crazy Horse, mixing with Country Rock and a tad bit of Folk. That equals an album that is super raw, rich, tuneful, and melodious. I love the harmony and the feel of the tempo. It’s both sloppy and simple. The vocal work on the chorus is amazing. This is one of those albums that could have been one big hit. Although, as time has gone by “Like A Hurricane” is the one song that has stood the decades and has been a favorite at concerts.
The musicianship is at it’s best. From the steel guitar to the fiddle for that Country sound to the heaviness of riffs and lead solos that we call Hard Rock. It’s all well balanced and all accounted for here.
A1 The Old Country Waltz
A2 Saddle Up The Palomino
A3 Hey Babe
A4 Hold Back The Tears
A5 Bite The Bullet
B1 Star Of Bethlehem
B2 Will To Love
B3 Like A Hurricane
So, as many may know or not know, I am a huge fan of Viking and Folk Metal. After buying the acoustical album by Fintroll, I realized how traditional this neofolk music is. It’s deeply rooted in the old Nordic faith, folklore, and tradition.
The vocals are amazing. They’re huge, rich, and soothing. Even the chanting is the same way. This is the type of traditional music that has meaning and purpose. It really does speak to me. There is a mixture of male with some added female vocal work to it. Both, compliment each other and isn’t overwhelming.
Musically, the drums and other traditional instruments are very noticeable. The drum beats give this music a huge sound, while the other instruments compliment the overall sound, style, and feel. The horn is absolutely breath taking when you hear it mixed in with the tempo of the drum.
So, if you’re looking into a type of music to relax to after a very stressful day at work, this works well for me. It does lighten the mood.
1. “Tyr” Týr 6:30
2. “UruR” Urus 10:11
3. “Isa” Ice 7:13
4. “MannaR – Drivande” Man – Pushed 4:09
5. “MannaR – Liv” Man – Life 5:13
6. “Raido” Ride 4:46
7. “Pertho” / (Rune’s meaning still unknown) 2:18
8. “Odal” Patrimony 5:29
9. “Wunjo” Joy 5:20
10. “Runaljod” Runes reading 7:36
In 1969, Neil Young fresh out of Buffalo Springfield, went into his own direction releasing his debut solo record. So, I purchased this record for .25 thinking that I was getting the “After the Gold Rush” vinyl. I was surprised to see that this was in it when I got home. Nonetheless, it was a Neil vinyl that I didn’t have.
Musically, this album sees Neil Young learning how to fly. It’s rooted in Folk and Country Rock influences with a touch of the Psychedelic sound to this guitar. It’s an extension of the former Buffalo Springfield sound. Highlights include the “I’ve Been Waiting for You”, “The Old Laughing Lady”, “The Last Trip to Tulsa”, and “What Did You Do to My Life?”.
This album was a flop upon it’s release, but Neil Young a few months later, would release one of the all-time greatest albums with his new backing band Crazy Horse. Although, a flop, this album is very important as it marked the beginning for Neil Young’s career, and very long career at that.
1. “The Emperor of Wyoming” 2:14
2. “The Loner” 3:55
3. “If I Could Have Her Tonight” 2:15
4. “I’ve Been Waiting for You” 2:30
5. “The Old Laughing Lady” 5:58
6. “String Quartet from Whiskey Boot Hill” (Jack Nitzsche) 1:04
7. “Here We Are in the Years” 3:27
8. “What Did You Do to My Life?” 2:28
9. “I’ve Loved Her So Long” 2:40
10. “The Last Trip to Tulsa” 9:25
As of late I have been seeking a new post/atmospheric band in the black metal community and through my diving in the deep abyss of metal, I have found it. Skyforest. Skyforest is post/atmospheric black metal band hailing from Russia. Even more amazing is it is a solo project lead by a man who refers to himself as B.M. or Bogdan Makarov. Personally this album features it all for me. From the builds of atmosphere to the breaks of melancholic melodies. Not only does one hear black metal influences, one hears the sounds of folk in his work as well, providing us with a break and sometimes build into the next piece of the songs. “Unity” was his second album released in 2016 followed by “Aftermath” in 2014. B.M. was in one other solo project prior his creation of Skyforest known as Autumn’s Kingdom. Autumn’s Kingdom was another atmospheric black metal band that chances are I will also enjoy and jam to. What makes this album so successful in my opinion are the breaks between the heaviness, providing us with a chance to pick up a solid tempo. For example the song “Fading Glow,” is a short 3:55 minute song divides two loud songs. Just listen to the start of “The Swan” and you will see what I am getting at. Even if you are not a fan of raspy, stereotypical black metal vocals, you will be relieved to know that not every song has that style of vocals. In fact B.M. switches often from dirty to clean. Using the builds in riffs and melodies to determine what vocal style is best to use and where. The only real negative thing I have to say about this album is most of the instruments are computer instruments, for a lack of better terms and to keep this review simple. What I mean by that is the violins are not real violins, they sound good but they would sound better with real people playing them and recording them. The builds they provide are momentous but blatantly “fake.” With all of this being said, I rate “Unity” by Skyforest a solid 80% for its creativity and ambition, being this was all one man.