The Xenon Codex



by Hoppoman USER (46 Reviews)
May 21st, 2013 | 7 replies

Release Date: 1988 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Hawkwind's last outing of the 80's is decidedly mixed.

Hawkwind – A trip through Space, Part XV Another Decade Down

Hawkwind, for a variety of reasons, began to slow down their output during the 1980s. Xenon Codex was released in 1988 and would be the last album from the band during the 80s. A decade marked with near misses and lost potential, the curse of the 80s would continue on to this album. An album which screams 'so close' so many times it is a sad farce.

Hawkwind on this album are:

Dave Brock – electric guitar, keyboards, vocals
Harvey Bainbridge – keyboards, vocals
Huw Lloyd-Langton – electric guitar
Alan Davey – bass guitar, vocals
Danny Thompson Jr – drums

Xenon Codex isn't a bad album by any stretch of the imagination. But it is remarkably inconsistent in its outgoings. 'The War I Survived' is an excellent little 80s Hawk rocker, and sets up the listener for something more. But like a magician who performs his best trick first to bring the audience in, the album leaves you wanting for more at several points.

As said above, 'The War I Survived' is a brilliant song, in addition to this are the tracks 'Lost Chronicles' and 'Sword of the East'. 'Lost Chronicles' is a song written by bassist turned keyboardist Harvey Bainbridge, and like any of his work with Hawkwind, the music is terribly superb with a chilling keyboard introduction followed by excellent guitar work from Langton. But then the rest of the band join in and absolutely ruin the last few moments of the track with the difference in their style.

The major issue with Hawkwind at this point was song writing, as apart from Bainbridge, Davey and occasionally Langton no one else was very good at it. Even to the point that two of the songs were written by a fan of the band (talk about interacting with your fan base). So on this album, you have good songs written by the aforementioned, and not so good songs written by everyone else. This makes Xenon Codex a mixed bag at the best of times.

When the album doesn't stand out, it appears stale and bland. This is a common side effect of Hawkwind material from this time period unfortunately, due to the fact that they have appeared to have expired all their creative material at this point. Which is a shame, because this band has so much to offer. Everyone has talent, and you can sometimes hear it peeking out from behind the music. But no one seems to have the energy to blast out from behind this wall of mediocrity, which is disappointing.

In the end, Xenon Codex gives out exactly what has been put in. There is some good music to be found here, particularly on the better written songs, which really stand out amongst the rest of the record. But they are only a third of the final product, and it is the final product which must be judged. Hawkwind have given us three sparkling jewels which have been buried in a massive bucket of fecal matter. In addition they have given you a spoon and you must eat your way to them. If you spare the time and effort to give the album a spin, you will be both impressed and disappointed in equal measure, which is unfortunate.

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user ratings (18)

Comments:Add a Comment 
May 21st 2013


Album Rating: 2.5

Larger gap between the reviews than I would have liked, but real life caught up to me for a while.

May 22nd 2013


I really enjoy how this discog review's going, and sweet review bro!

I need to check out more Hawkwind, I've only listened to their 70's classics thus far

May 22nd 2013


Album Rating: 2.5

Their 80s stuff has more variety in it.

Its just a case of finding the good stuff and taking it away from the bad.

May 22nd 2013


That finishing metaphor is amazing...

"them album" should be "the album" though

May 22nd 2013


Album Rating: 2.5

Fixed and sorted. Thank you for noticing

May 8th 2017


Album Rating: 4.5

Please someone give this a positive review.

July 26th 2017


Album Rating: 3.0

A nice strong album to end the decade! Too bad it was not more of a chart hit. Huw Lloyd-Langton (RIP) only has one writing credit and would depart Hawkwind after the 88-89 tour. He would contribute as a guest musician on future albums, but would never return as a full member. The disk starts with the kick-butt The War I Survived with lyrics inspired by Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5. This is a classic Hawkwind rocker and it’s followed by the excellent atmospheric instrumental Wastelands of Sleep. The pumping Neon Skyline continues the strong album flow right into Lost Chronicles –another atmospheric and effective instrumental. Tides is up next with some excellent guitar work from Huw (great tone!). Mutation Zone is a cacophony with rant added by Harvey –not a favorite and the first misstep of the album. EMC is another Harvey song with some voice sampling over a chugging Brock guitar –pretty nice! Sword of The East Is a Davey track that rocks hard and became a popular live song. Good Evening is a punkish song that ends the album on a WTF note. The production of this album is probably one of the weakest from any of their 80s albums –echoey sound, booming, metronomic drums at 4/4 with unimaginative fills –but fortunately strong guitar sound throughout. The bonus live tracks are pretty good too; I have them from the Undisclosed File Addendum live album (released in ’95).

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