These strange and unsettling times that we find ourselves in this year are having a great affect on many of us and the things we hold dear, no more so than the music scene which has been particularly hard-hit. The loss of live touring and the revenue associated with it has caused musicians to be even more creative to survive, and this applies to what Hawkwind have presented here, under the guise of the Hawkwind Light Orchestra. The album titled Carnivorus (which is an anagram of Coronavirus) follows the full band’s acclaimed 2019 album All Aboard the Skylark.
Dave Brock started this album as a solo project during the winter of 2019, with contributions added by band members in January and February before lockdown began, but it was mostly recorded during lockdown. The stalwart musicians Brock, Richard Chadwick and Magnus Martin have created an almost full band sound here, with classic Hawkwind textures which are tight and well focused. This is a great achievement as by design this album was not meant to be recorded with the full band, but at first listen it is not obvious that this is so, such is the quality and power of the sounds contained here.
The album is what would have been called a double, clocking in at around seventy-one minutes, providing the listener with fifteen tracks of variable length, the longest being over ten minutes. The songs tackle various subjects, the most obvious one a barbed look at the pandemic with two tracks in opposing styles, but they work so well together in that inimitable Hawkwind way.
The album starts with the atmospheric Expedition to Planet X, complete with trademark throbbing in the background before becoming almost orchestral towards the end. It jumps straight into Dyna-mite, a full-on Hawkwind song with lyrics covering the subject of a girl who is strange to some, an android who will last forever. Next up is the instrumental Voids of Wasteland, classic Hawkwind with pulsating rhythms, atmospheric keyboard swirls and some great guitar cutting through.
The music has a bright and positive feel, even if this is not always reflected in the lyrics, but this does not matter as the enjoyment and excitement generated is there for the listener. They even dip their toes into blues waters, fusing the blues with psychedelic overtones, with touches of early Status Quo on Model Farm Blues to create something different but still enjoyably Hawkwind.
As previously mentioned, two tracks deal with the current pandemic, I mean they really could not leave this subject alone could they? Dave Brock needed to have his say, and he does, so well. The first track, Lockdown (Keep Calm) is a Sonic Attack for the modern day, full of biting comments and instructions in the style of the aforementioned track. This is followed up with The Virus, and again the lyrics don’t pull any punches, the classic Hawkwind sound providing the platform for the lyrics to deliver their message. There are many phrases to hear but a few seem to stick, “sinking feeling this is the end, what we eat is meat’s revenge” with a chant of “creeping virus”, and later on “is this how its all going to end?” Alongside the quality of the music, they get their messages across in a powerful way.
Overall, this is a thoroughly enjoyable album that fits well into Hawkwind’s vast catalogue of releases. It is further proof that Dave Brock continues to maintain quality in his songwriting, ably supported by the band to keep the Hawkwind journey moving forward. If you are a fan, this release is worth getting. If you are not familiar with the band, give it a listen, you may be converted.
01. Expedition to Planet X (1:25)
02. Dyna-mite (3:32)
03. Void of Wasteland (5:15)
04. Repel Attract (3:12)
05. Attraction (3:20)
06. Human Behaviour (No Sex Allowed) (5:40)
07. Temple of Love (1:48)
08. Square Peg Into A Round Hole (4:44)
09. Windy Day (4:42)
10. Model Farm Blues (7:50)
11. Whose Call Is It Anyway? (3:21)
12. Lockdown (Keep Calm) (5:43)
13. The Virus (10:18)
14. Forgotten Memories (5:24)
15. Higher Ground (4:42)
Total Time – 71:11
Dave Brock – Vocals, Lead Guitar, Keyboards, Synths
Richard Chadwick – Drums
Magnus Martin – Guitar, Vocal, Keyboards
Record Label: Cherry Red Records
Date of Release: 16th October 2020