Review Summary: Onward and upward. Hawkwind – A trip through space, Part XVII – Warp Speed
When 2010 hit, Hawkwind seemed to move into warp speed when it came to releasing new material. 2010 brought Blood of the Earth, and 2012 brought their new album Onward. Whereas Blood was focused more on the rock side of Hawkwind, interlaced with a few excellent space style tracks, Onward is a completely different silver machine. It is not 88 minutes of brain damage, it is 81 minutes of pure bliss.
On this album, Hawkwind are:
Dave Brock – guitar, synthesizer, vocals, bass
Richard Chadwick – drums, vocals
Tim Blake – keyboards, theremin, bass
Mr. Dibs – bass, vocals
Niall Hone – bass, synthesis, sequencing, guitar
Jason Stuart – keyboards
Huw Lloyd-Langton – guitar
This line-up is exactly the same as the one from Blood of the Earth, and this version of Hawkwind work very well together, Huw Lloyd-Langton provides what would be his final Hawkwind appearance due to his tragic loss to cancer in December 2012. This means that this version of Hawkwind has had time to pull itself together, allowing each of the members to work with perfect interlocking skill.
One of the first things you notice about Onward is its length. It is a very long album, the longest LP that Hawkwind have ever attempted. But whereas in their youth, Hawkwind couldn't keep it up passed round five, now they seem to have all the stamina in the world. They are the George Foreman of music apparently as they have created an album which is good from start to finish. But this is years of experience melted down into a concentrated form. Something they manage to pull off very well.
Onward is very spacey, and is the epitome of that tried and tested Hawkwind style. You have layer upon layer of musical genius moulded together with painstaking efficiency. Keyboards from Blake who also uses the theremin, an interesting device which plays what can only be described as in tune radio static, go together perfectly with the heavy rock riffs of Hone and Brock, who make an excellent team not see since Langton and Brock in the 1980s.
Onward certainly lives up to its name, darting in-between a total of 18 tracks. Starting with the energetic opener 'Seasons' which combines a daring mix of synthesised vocal work, guitars and keyboard work. Mr. Dibs steps up to the microphone with brilliant skill. But 'Seasons' is just the start of the masterpiece that is Onward. There is something here for every Hawkwind fan. 'The Hills have Ears' contains some excellent eastern style musical parts. This brings back memories of 1977's 'Hassan I Sahba' which contained very similar sounding musical parts.
Onward is so long, that there is more to be said about it than can be written. But this truly is Hawkwind firing on all cylinders. They have finally found a line-up that works, and the whole band have never sounded this good. Hone and Chadwick work together perfectly, creating a tight team for everyone else to work from. This is Dave Brock's perfect example of Hawkwind. A simple rock band, with brilliant and expansive musical sound to keep it warm. When the old man comes to the front with his aged voice bringing a whole new level to the music, you see the reason why Hawkwind have survived this long. They are one man's dream, kept together by an excellent team of people who can do no wrong.
The only downside for this album might be its length. It is a very long album and if you are not used to it then it might appear somewhat as a shock. But Hawkwind are able to use this length to their advantage as they can cover a vast amount of musical styles, each some seemingly brought from different sections of their career.
The band may be old, it may be the type of music that your father listened too, but unlike many bands from that era this band are not spent yet. Onward happens to be one of the best Hawkwind albums ever, possibly let down but it's very length. This is not an album for people who do not appreciate the epic half of Hawkwind. It is a beautiful album from a band that have given so much over the years. From here, the only direction that Hawkwind appear to be heading is in fact onward.