Review Summary: Hawkwind get into the spirit of the 80s, with terrible results. Hawkwind – A trip through Space, Part XII The 80s Strike Back.
Hawkwind were never afraid to try something new and that is what Church of Hawkwind is. But new isn't always better and that happens to be the case, on this ram shackled piece of work, that Hawkwind produced in the first half of 1982. The 80s are generally famous for two things, the rise of metal and the use of synthesisers on everyday music, ranging from pop to metal and everything in between. For this album, Hawkwind stray away from their standard 'rock' image and throw themselves whole heartedly into the sounds of the synthesisers and the results speak for themselves.
Dave Brock – electric guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, vocals
Huw Lloyd-Langton – electric guitar, vocals
Harvey Bainbridge – bass guitar, keyboards, vocals
Martin Griffin– drums
This album is a synthesiser ruled kingdom from start to finish. Dave Brock became Dr Technical for this album and many of the songs are written by him, albeit poorly. This album is basically a few inches away from being a Brock solo album, but it just so happens that he brought Hawkwind along for this roller coaster of hell. Everything seems to be weak on this record, the song writing is very poor, with many songs being either instrumentals or repeats of a few words over and over again. The longer songs with structure are basically poems that don't flow, giving the album a staggered tone.
Also, Langton and Bainbridge seem to forget that they play instruments. Langton's guitar is nearly nowhere to be found and when he does appear, it repeats the same metal 'twang' noise over and over again. Bainbridge has totally left his bass guitar post, throwing himself with fluid grace onto the keyboard section along with Brock. The drumming is also rather poor, with Griffin's drumming being replaced by simple drum fills that sound like they were produced from a poor quality drumming machine. Hawkwind have no one on this album willing to take the risk to try anything new, lyrically or musically. They attempt to cover these short comings by adding more synthesiers to the mix, but even these don't add anything to the album, and just make it appear even more bloated and sluggish.
Church of Hawkwind is not a good album, even the most stand out track; the short but chilling 'Experiment with Destiny', is in fact a shortened rehash of the song 'Virgin of the World' from their previous album Sonic Attack. Church takes away a lot from the sound of Hawkwind and nothing new is added, the synthesiers do their best to fill the gap, but they are shallow and hollow, a mindless mass of blaring 80s beeps, bleeps, whizzes and noise. Church doesn't even have a proper structure let alone proper songs, a very very poor effort from a band who had done so well up to this point. This album is not recommended for anyone who is a fan of Hawkwind, but luckily this album would soon fall into the deep cracks of the 1980s, and Hawkwind would release a new album a few months later.