Blue Öyster Cult - The Symbol Remains review



Reviewer:
7.0

41 users:
7.27
Band: Blue Öyster Cult
Album: The Symbol Remains
Release date: October 2020


01. That Was Me
02. Box In My Head
03. Tainted Blood
04. Nightmare Epiphany
05. Edge Of The World
06. The Machine
07. Train True (Lennie's Song)
08. The Return Of St. Cecilia
09. Stand And Fight
10. Florida Man
11. The Alchemist
12. Secret Road
13. There's A Crime
14. Fight


Is it really a late-career album if you haven't released anything for the past almost 20 years?

Having just reviewed the newest Deep Purple, I advise you to read that review first, especially since if you're a Blue Öyster Cult fan, you're probably a Deep Purple one too, but being two of the oldest still active bands here, I made a few points in that review that stand for this one as well. Even though I'm way more familiar with Deep Purple's discography that with Blue Öyster Cult's, I always had a lot of respect for the latter's ability to thread in between heavy metal and an eclectic brand of softer hard rock. Throughout their long career they shifted more towards the latter, but they've been pretty consistent, showcasing a lot of gems for people willing to go beyond "Don't Fear The Reaper" and "Godzilla".

Unlike Deep Purple, Blue Öyster Cult were never really that much something you could call a heavy metal band despite their heavy moments. Nor is their lineup as consistent, with only Eric Bloom and Donald Roeser to have been part of any other Blue Öyster Cult album (they were part of all of them anyway). But that isn't to say much since the other musicians have been in the band for a lot of time, since 2004 and 2012 respectively, it's just that the band hasn't released anything since 2001's Curse Of The Hidden Mirror. So obviously there is a lot of pressure to be had on a reunion album this big than if the band simply soldiered on with a few more releases in the meantime. That could also explain the bloated tracklist.

And it's that bloated tracklist that is probably my main issue with the album. Running at over an hour, it's clear that the band wanted to make up for the lost time, but it makes the album feel a bit inconsistent and unnecessarily long. I mean, if they made some of them "bonus tracks" they could have some secret ace defense for filling the album with material, but I'd feel more warmly about relistening to the album if at least 2 or 3 songs were cut. As far as the songs themselves go, most of them are quite alright, pulling sounds from all over their catalog, from the surprisingly heavy opener "That Was Me", the softer pop rock in "Box In My Head", the 80s radio rock of "The Machine", the boogie of "Train True", the fist pumping "Stand And Fight", the easygoing groove of "Florida Man" (likely about the person responsible for half the non-political headlines in the USA) and so on. A lot of the songs have the classic touch, complete with the harmonic vocals of the original two members, and the harmonies extend to the guitars as well, and also pleasing solos and all that.

So even if the tracklist could've benefited from a cut, Blue Öyster Cult at least have the courtesy to fill it with worthwhile material. You can feel the strain of old age on some of these, even if the newer members definitely inject some youthful energy, but the vocals still sound surprisingly powerful for their age. The worst case of them feeling aged is in the opener, since if I see a woman weeping at the window I'm more likely to think of economic hardship cased by the pandemic and wealth inequality than of Eric Bloom. Unless he caused it. You never know. Regardless as much as I enjoy that song, Blue Öyster Cult play much more to their strengths in the harmonic 80s sounding songs than (ironically for a reviewer of a metal website to say that) the metal songs. And if Deep Purple played to their strengths on Whoosh!, Blue Öyster Cult try much more to see what sticks on The Symbol Remains. Which is still quite respectable at this age.

The Symbol Remains definitely won its right to exist even after so many years of Blue Öyster Cult absence. Even the songs I would cut showcase a band who still has a bit of vital energy, even if it doesn't always play to the band's strength. But speaking of the band's strengths, there's a lot of it here here remaining. Well, the symbol remained indeed.


 



Written on 25.10.2020 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.


Comments

Comments: 15   Visited by: 102 users
25.10.2020 - 11:09
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
I did not know you like this band. They have some good tunes in the past, but if we accept that old guys make music for them selves, its ok
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25.10.2020 - 12:29
nikarg
Mod
Written by JoHn DoE on 25.10.2020 at 11:21

The new BOC is much weaker than the new DP if you ask me.

It is amazing how much tastes can differ

I was never a big BOC fan but this album is good. It is a bit long indeed but also many songs are memorable; along the ones you mention in the review, I'd add "Tainted Blood", "Fight", and my favourite from the album, "The Alchemist". This, for me, is a lot better than the new Deep Purple.
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25.10.2020 - 12:39
JoHn DoE
Written by nikarg on 25.10.2020 at 12:29

Written by JoHn DoE on 25.10.2020 at 11:21

The new BOC is much weaker than the new DP if you ask me.

It is amazing how much tastes can differ

I was never a big BOC fan but this album is good. It is a bit long indeed but also many songs are memorable; along the ones you mention in the review, I'd add "Tainted Blood", "Fight", and my favourite from the album, "The Alchemist". This, for me, is a lot better than the new Deep Purple.


hey, not cool, I did not post that sentence here.
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25.10.2020 - 12:42
nikarg
Mod
Written by JoHn DoE on 25.10.2020 at 12:39

hey, not cool, I did not post that sentence here.

Ha ha I know, but I didn't want to go off topic in the DP thread.

How come you think this is weaker anyway?
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25.10.2020 - 12:54
JoHn DoE
Written by nikarg on 25.10.2020 at 12:42

Written by JoHn DoE on 25.10.2020 at 12:39

hey, not cool, I did not post that sentence here.

Ha ha I know, but I didn't want to go off topic in the DP thread.

How come you think this is weaker anyway?


A couple of songs stand out, the others seemed average, nothing special to me.
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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25.10.2020 - 13:50
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Can we all agree both albums would've been better if the had 10 songs instead?
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25.10.2020 - 15:30
nikarg
Mod
Written by RaduP on 25.10.2020 at 13:50

Can we all agree both albums would've been better if the had 10 songs instead?

Yes.
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26.10.2020 - 00:20
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Meh

*Runs and listens to Fire Of Unknown Origin*
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26.10.2020 - 05:19
Lord Slothrop
I've been revisiting all of BOC's albums as of late and, with the exception of Imaginos, would rate this higher than anything they've done since Fire of Unknown Origin. It certainly suffers from a long runtime and most of it doesn't have a BOC feel to it (to me anyway), but it's a solid rock album nonetheless. "The Alchemist" is the only track where I feel like the old band is back.
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26.10.2020 - 08:06
JoHn DoE
Written by Apothecary on 26.10.2020 at 00:20

Meh

*Runs and listens to Fire Of Unknown Origin*


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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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30.10.2020 - 15:15
Dungeon Shaker
Cultosauraus Erectus > A Fire of Unknown Origin
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30.10.2020 - 15:17
JoHn DoE
Written by Dungeon Shaker on 30.10.2020 at 15:15

Cultosauraus Erectus > A Fire of Unknown Origin


their debut is my favorite, so there you go...
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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30.10.2020 - 15:17
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Dungeon Shaker on 30.10.2020 at 15:15

Cultosauraus Erectus > A Fire of Unknown Origin

No
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Father: How can a picture of a field be sad without a sad person looking sad in the field?
Young Woman: That's an interesting problem. Yeah, I struggle with that.
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30.10.2020 - 15:20
JoHn DoE
Written by RaduP on 30.10.2020 at 15:17

Written by Dungeon Shaker on 30.10.2020 at 15:15

Cultosauraus Erectus > A Fire of Unknown Origin

No



Secret Treaties is better than both.
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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03.11.2020 - 10:38
Lord Slothrop
Written by Dungeon Shaker on 30.10.2020 at 15:15

Cultosauraus Erectus > A Fire of Unknown Origin
100%
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