Review Summary: Creativity and inspiration unfortunately seems to hit a dead end on BOC's third album of the 80s, marking a creative lowpoint too.
When the 80s dawned on Blue oyster cult, they didn't sound like a band going through an identity crisis, but unfortunately that is the impression given by the band's ninth studio album, The revolution by night
. Created on the backbone of the band's previous two albums (which swiftly proved successful thanks to chart-topping anthems such as “Black blade” and “Fire of unknown origin”), The revolution by night
simply suggests that Blue Oyster Cult had run out of musical ideas and strong songwriting, and the simplistic, AOR feel to near enough each and every song probably didn't help the band's long-running success in the early 80s.
You could say it wasn't BOC's fault, but having lost arguably one of the band's most creative songwriters, Albert Bouchard, it would be hard not to. So, out went Bouchard, and in came a multitude of musicians from many different bands of more or less the same genre. Sure, the musicians which BOC recruited were notable at least-Aldo Nova, contributed synthesizers to opener “Take me away” and Patti Smith practically wrote the lyrics and designed the framework for the admittedly bland “Shooting shark”-but it didn't quite take away from the fact that The revolution by night
was a complete dud, especially when everyone knew what the band were fully capable of.
Musically, The revolution by night
as one of the most straightforward records to have ever been produced, not so much by BOC but any band which proclaimed to play hard rock or heavy metal. The album's opening two songs, for this reason, are indeed the strongest too. “Take me away” went on to receive significant airplay on AOR radio, and “Eyes of fire”, whilst weak in comparison, does the decent job of being a hard, groovy albeit uninspired semi-ballad. Unfortunately, the rest of the album, with the exception of the slightly more complex “Let go”, falls flat on its face. “Shooting shark”, which could have been a very good, prog-tinged epic given the lyrical content, simply drags on for longer than it should. Seven minutes for a song as tedious and repetitive as this could easily have been cut down by three or four minutes, since not even the instrumentation or vocal talent of Donald Roeser could lift it out of a somewhat deep creative hole. “Shadow of California” has absolutely no sense of direction and doesn't even seem to know whether it wants to be a rock, metal or pop song, thanks to the way in which each instrument merely goes its own way, as opposed to collaborating with others so as to create a song which is written more carefully and thoughtfully.
Another problem with The revolution by night
is its lack of consistency or indeed power which made albums such as Fire of unknown origin
as successful as they became. Throughout, there are some songs which make for very interesting, very thoughtful song structures, but which are also demolished creatively by unnecessary synthesizers or rather weak vocals. “Feel the thunder” and “Veins” are both good examples of this. Whereas the former presents itself in the intro as a stomping, mid-paced groove, it swiftly falls into monotonous territory because of sudden keyboard sounds and a production which unfortunately does not bring the best out of Eric Bloom's otherwise harmonic vocals. The latter, on the other hand, does make the keyboards and synthesizers feel more useful, and even Donald Roeser's vocal style seems to be very handy, singing very fluently alongside a simplistic albeit strong rhythm. However, the rhythm section isn't exactly something to behold, given that the keyboards and synthesizers are so strong and prominent that Roeser's guitar and Bouchard's bass are pushed to the back, making for an uneven sound.
It would be fair to say that The revolution by night
isn't terrible, but is, by BOC's standards, certainly average. Especially if you listen to this album after say, Cultosaurus erectus
or any of the band's 70s albums, The revolution by night
would come across as a complete dud. That said, it would be the band's lowest rated album since the somewhat unspectacular Mirrors
, and one of the first of Blue oyster cult's albums to not go gold in the US. It also made people think twice about Blue oyster cult as a successful, forward-thinking musical entity.