Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Not for the timid, Silberbart and Rag I Ryggen
played the kind of rough, hard, and heavy progressive/psychedelic/proto metal rock that revolutionized European rock in the early to mid 70s and although Rag I Ryggen from Stockholm in Sweden dedicate roughly half their album to songs in their native tongue and the other to English with plenty of melodic passages thrown in both bands are seriously heavy.

Rag I Ryggen are oftentimes compared to Uriah Heep, and that is I would say a pretty fair guess at a big influence on this group. However, as with all descriptions of rare records and rare music I'd differ a bit. For one thing, all 7 songs on their masterful one off album are based on Classical themes, not in an Overt Nice/Keith Emerson sort of way, but in a much more truly sophisticated fashion that I'd describe as Heavy Symphonic rather than the early Genesis or King Crimson kind of more mellower soft to hard and back passage prog rock. While I'm at a loss as to what their name and half the lyrics here mean and can only tell you that the 3 English lyrics are good, but not anything beyond woman trouble it's probably a pretty fair guess that these guys had something against the opposite sex or just were all having the same break up at once when they made their record. "Naked Man" is such a poor lyric that it's funny the way you laugh at a bad Aerosmith lyric. However, unlike virtually any other hard rock band I can think of there is a sophistication to the music that few other bands in the whole world could match here. Even with a brutal twin distorted guitar and organ attack the music here is beautiful. The vocals avoid screaming tantrum throwing pretentions and the  harmonies are first class when they use them. Rag I Ryggen jam throughout their record, even devoting a whole track to various symphonic/classical instrumental phrases at the end of side one. The cover apes Roger Dean who did a few covers for Uriah Heep, but if you're expecting a rip off band here they are not. This record has its own sound and clearly later Swedish acts like Europe, 220 Volt, and Treat demonstrated that hard rock and melodic songs could be combined with magical results. I love Rag I Ryggen, the guitar is some of the best in the world, the entire band are brilliant musicians, and this really is a masterpiece of the Proto melodic epic metal. I'd strongly urge anyone who would like to learn about the beginnings of later hard rock in Northern Europe and why the real early to mid 70s bands did it a whole lot better than most anywhere else start here and blast the volume on their turntable for this beast.

 Silberbart is Deutsche for "Silver Beard," but there's nothing old or tired about the 3 piece band of that name whose masterful album is now one of the most expensive (over 1,000 Euros even it can fetch) and highly praised on the German division of the Philips label. Normally hard heavy crazy is good sounding to my ears, but when you throw in the free form freak out you've lost me, but there's something about Silberbart that's different. I'll be damned if I know how to describe it, but the 16 minute quiet and vivid soundscapes merged with screaming vocal fits and demolishing bull dozing guitars back to that quiet, strange land "Brain Brain" actually makes me feel great when I hear it, not sick. For one thing, these guys are 3 really good musicians. They are Robert Fripp and Mike Giles level good and you can count on your fingers how few bands there are at that high a standard. Also, I despise the term "Krautrock." I find it degrading, asinine, insulting, obnoxious, and unforgivable. If you really took a good look at what went on in the two World Wars Germany and England got screwed royally while America got off light in comparison.  After the war Germany had to be rebuilt and had to recover not just from the physical damage caused by Adolph Hitler's destruction, but the huge emotional weight that the country had been left with. Rather impressively, Germany pulled together and the country would even prosper over time and heal. That's great. One major factor to making Germany a great country instead of a shameful one would undeniably be the fact that no other country in the world had a music scene as inventive, exciting, and exotically different sounding as they did. Keeping psychedelia alive and playing music of their very own vision, German bands are brilliant. Silberbart are one of the best ever for the heaviest side of German rock, and though their album is just 4 long tracks you don't feel like they are navel gazing, showing off, or meandering the way some other bands of that era do. I'll take this over Pink Floyd any day thank you. While the opening track "Chub Chub Cherry" is somewhat whimsical in its heaviness the rest of the album has a more go for the throat sound to it while remaining firmly structured. The guitar and bass know how to feed off of each other in the most exciting manner and the drums are as I said reminiscent of the 3 best in the word- Mike Giles, Bill Bruford, and Ginger Baker. If you've always wanted to hear a perfect hybrid of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath if they went freaked out psychedelic look no further. This album doesn't miss a step. You can't play it too often or you may damage your hearing, but there's nothing like pulling it out once or twice every few weeks and losing yourself in that magical world contained herein. It's a blissful experience and one you shouldn't miss. Find Silberbart's only LP Four Times Sound Razing and blow your mind 15 times in the listening process!

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