Review Summary: Hawkwind keep up their brilliant sound with Warrior, an album that would be the last truly great thing they accomplish in the 70s. Hawkwind – A trip through Space, Part V The Opus
Hall was a complete success, Hawkwind had truly reached the high of their career and surely it would not be possible for them to reach this standard again? Warrior on the edge of time truly shows that it is possible for lightning to strike the same place twice. With this record being equal in stature and ability to Hall of the Mountain Grill.
The line-up between Grill and Warrior changed in standard Hawkwind fashion. Del Dettmarr had left, leaving the band without a permanent soul behind the synthesiers. In addition they hired another drummer, a man by the name of Alan Powell. This meant that Hawkwind actually had two people behind the drum kit, because apparently one wasn't enough for this band who will try anything once.
Warrior is somewhat of a concept album and much of the input came from Michael Moorcock, a science fiction writer from the 1960s onwards. The album is roughly based around his saga of the Eternal Champion. This direction helps focus the band in the same way that Grill did. Meaning that the performance is tight and well constructed. On this album Hawkwind is.
Michael Moorcock – vocals
Dave Brock – guitar, keyboards, vocals, bass guitar
Nik Turner – saxophone, flute, vocals
Lemmy – bass guitar, vocals
Simon House – violin, keyboards
Simon King – drums, percussions
Alan Powell – drums, percussion
You'd think that losing the man behind their synthesiser department would stop Hawkwind, but it doesn't, in fact this album is much more synthesised than the last few ones. The album begins in the same vein as Grill, except the music is much more light hearted. This is still Hawkwind in rock mode, and the music they play is brilliant. The chilling wind segments sound mythical. The guitar work and bass really pound along with a quick pace, Brock's vocals are swollen with the sound of space and time. If anything, the loss of Dettmar has made them sound more like King Crimson than anyone else, with Turner sounding like he belongs on the album Red by the progressive rock band.
The first two songs merge together to form one larger song that takes up half the first side. Whereas 'Assault and Battery' are harsher and rockier, 'The Golden Void' sounds more like old Hawkwind, the synthesiser department taking the song across the vast crevice of space and time. The middle section of this song is particularity delicious, with powerful wind segments combined with the moving vocals of Brock, the keyboards come to life with a moving tune that carries on to the end.
'The wizard' is a harsh interlude to the album and the first of several, it is a recital of a poem by Moorcock and is spoken by him in a foreboding voice that bounces around the album. The Wizard blew his horn..... The Wizard blew his horn......
'Opa-Loka' is a funky little Hawkwind jam, that sounds quite krautrock in style. The drums beat in a quick steady beat through the entire song, never changing and never slowing, yet they seem to flow with a unnatural ease over the record. Hovering over this solid ground is the well tested and trusted Hawkwind style space jam. With the keyboards at work overhead the guitars in the background.
The mood then suddenly changes with the song 'The Demented Man' which is a Brock style acoustic song. His simple guitar complimented by the keyboard and wind sections of the band making sure that he is never alone on his journey.
'Mangu' is another Hawkwind jam which has middle eastern influences, especially in the wind section which accompanies the sound. Brock's voice is as good as ever, and is packed full of synthesised goodness. The synthesisers themselves dance with the keyboard and the percussion. Teetering back and forth from quiet to loud, from great vast tracks of noise to quiet dribbles of humbled music.
This is broken up by another interlude-poem. With Brock's highly altered voice pounding away about the soldiers on the end of time, another one of Moorcock's poems from his eternal warrior saga which gave this album its concept. The later poem 'warriors' is an extension of this poem, and causes the later half of the album to break up in sound.
'Spiral galaxy' is an instrumental, a highly synthesised track from the mind of Simon House. This track holds to his section of the band brilliantly, with powerful noises from the synthesier department taking the majority of the credit on this song. The drums do their best to keep up, and are as varied and as catchy as the synthesiser section could hope to be.
This sound carries on to 'Dying Seas' another synthesied jam, Brock's vocals swell and deflate across the track being carried along the winds of the synthesisers and the insistant drumming.
'Kings of Speed' is much more hard rock than the rest of the album, sounding similar in style to the previous album. But it is still much less dark than anything of Grill, but the drums and the solo work are excellent, a happy go lucky rock song to bring this brilliant album to it's conclusion.
Warrior is a very space styled album, and is quite different in style to their previous outings. The influence Lemmy had has appeared to diminish, as the bass is much less gritter and the overall sound is much lighter. Despite the synthesiser department being officially empty, this album is ruled by them. With the wind and the keyboard holding much of the musical sway in a similar way to Hawkwind's first two albums. All in all, this album is truly a great record to get your hands on.
However, this would be the last truly great Hawkwind album, not long after it was released the band began to explode. Lemmy was sacked not long after, his gritty metal bass replaced for all eternity. In addition by the time the album was completed, despite all it's brilliance the fans were left wanting more. After five albums in five years, nearly all of them brilliant examples space rock, Hawkwind were beginning to sound stale, and were left with two options. Evolve their sound, or disappear into the cracks of space and time.