Whoever said rock was dead has probably been eating those words for a while now. Each generation has seen bands rise up to take the baton of true, wholesome rock and roll, thus ensuring its survival. But it’s also been rock and roll’s ability to incite change and insight that has kept it alive. It’s like the Dalai Lama of musical genres.
Taking that baton for the next generation is Black Space Riders, the German progressive rock band that just released their EP Beyond Refugeeum.
The follow-up to their previous album, Refugeeum, Beyond Refugeeum is a reflection on the situation of refugees and other immigrants in Europe, while also taking a look deep into universal human suffering, relating the struggles of refugees to those felt by people all around the world. Black Space Riders tackles these themes with the brutal honesty of U2 and Pink Floyd.
Black Space Riders’ Latest Brings Big Rock Sound
The EP’s first track, “Willkommen” (German for “welcome”) sets the tone for the rest of the album, opening up with sinister guitar riffs, minimalistic electric organ background, and a repetitive, steady rhythm guitar. It’s an instrumental, but it’s just as expressive, if not more so, than other rock ballads, bursting into elaborate guitar solos and climaxing with an explosive ending.
“Freedom at First Sight” is an ironic take on a refugee’s introduction to their new home. Its lyrics “Give up your former life” express the assumption that refugees should suddenly conform to their new culture, carrying nothing from their old one. The powerful, soaring guitar solos combined with sinister, low vocals give the impression of a pitiless customs officer “welcoming” a refugee to their new home.
“Droneland” takes a garish look at another dark aspect of refugee life: drones. The ominous, reverberating electronica introduction sounds almost like helicopters, and the synthetic harmony throughout gives the impression of impersonal, soulless machines, like the kind refugees hide from, echoing the refrain in the song “run inside.” The sharp, precise drumline in the latter half of the track has a militaristic feel to it, hammering the theme home.
“Starglue Sniffer” deals with the issue of drug addiction, an issue faced by refugees that we probably don’t often think about. The track has a psychedelic feel to it, with a driving, grungy energy, reminiscent of the acid rock of the late 60s.
Every generation has their unique rock bands. And while these rock bands may sound different or address different issues, they are all alike in that they do address issues. No matter the context, the time, or the artistic culture surrounding them, the best rock bands will, with brutal honesty, portray things the way they are, no matter how ugly or unpleasant. Art can be enjoyable, art can be fun, but it will never shy away from the way things are.
Black Space Riders is that voice for reality in this generation, and Beyond Refugeeum is its anthem.