March 27, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 36°F


Review: Garage rock band crafts memorial album

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club has always been known for its young, brash and energetic fervor, but “Specter at the Feast,” the collective’s seventh studio album, shows the band at its most mature as it grows in the wake of tragedy.

The death of Michael Been, vocalist and guitarist Robert Levon Been’s father and the band’s sound technician, has resulted in the creation of “Specter,” being a sort of cathartic grieving process. The album substitutes some of the band’s outward tenacity for more somber and emotional material, and rightfully so.

“Fire Walker” is a slow-burning monster of a jam that incorporates the band’s standard imposing bass lines. The six-and-a-half minute cut oozes and expands with each bass lick as eerie chimes clang in the background.

A prime example of Black Rebel’s softer side comes in the form of “Lullaby.” The band samples the fluttering acoustic guitar riff of The Beatles’ iconic “Blackbird.” The riff is melded together with a heavy drum cadence and the band’s usual psychedelic gloss.

The final song, a sentimental eight-minute opus, titled “Lose Yourself,” separates itself as one of the LP’s best. In an album rife with highs and lows, this track seems to find the middle ground between a somber memorial of those lost and hope for the future.

“Specter” might not draw heavily from the band’s previously established ferocity, but the trade-off for emotion and power is a welcome one. Even after seven albums, Black Rebel continues to grow and develop further dynamic qualities.

Three and a half stars.