Finally, a quiet night in the Swamp with which to gather my thoughts. At the end of another week of madness I must alter my state of mind with the aid of The Chronicle of the Black Sword. Few people have love for mid-80's Hawkwind, but I am one of those few - at least for this album. A concept album grounded squarely in Michael Moorcock's Elric cycle, the tone matches that of its source material - brooding, expansive, iconoclastic, and unrelentingly grim. Moorcock's albino swordsman was a loner anti-hero, an alien among his own people; by 1985 Dave Brock was the only original member, a relic from another era.
Still, the album sounds fairly in line with the times - as heavy as contemporary records by the crop of aging first-wave metal bands inspired by Hawkwind back in the day, and mercifully mostly free of cheesy eighties production. Granted, there's a bubbly synth here or there, or the occasional too-long guitar noodle, but it's not like the group were ever particularly known for their restraint and focus. Brock's vocals sound a bit strained and haggard, too, but this adds a weight and world-weariness to the proceedings, fitting with its downbeat lyrics and bleak worldview.
Interestingly, the band performed the album in it's entirety on the tour, with an elaborate stage production and Moorcock himself narrating. I haven't watched the recently released DVD, but there's some wild and hilarious videos out there for perusal. They're a million light years from 1969, but the interval has only made them weirder.