by Keavin Wiggins
Real rock never dies and Bigelf is a prime example, a band that takes seemingly unrelated past rock styles and brings them together to create their very own sound for the 21st century. Imagine if members of Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, ELO, Deep Purple and Ministry put a band together, then you will begin to get an idea of the Bigelf sonic experience.
Normally we wouldn't showcase a band with an artist of the month feature that doesn't have a US release yet, but an exception had to be made for Bigelf; one of the few bands that are worth the price of an import.
Unlike most bands that get tagged with a "retro" label, Bigelf is definitely not a band that you can pass judgment on after hearing only one or two songs. Most will want to include them in the "stoner rock" or "doom" category, but Bigelf doesn't appear to want to closely follow any single formula as their album, "Hex" demonstrates. What you get instead is a band that wears their influences on their sleeves BUT tries to take things in a different direction.
The album opens with "Madhatter", a tune that is sure to turn on any classic Sabbath fan. The riffs would do Iommi proud but again, Bigelf bring other elements to the table and ear for writing popful melodies that doesn't cross the line into pop. Not even close.
After they get your fist pounding with "Madhatter", Bigelf then take you in a totally different realm with "Bats in the Belfry II", a song that harkens to Pink Floyd but then goes off into ELO territory. Not many bands can pull off the use of a Hammond organ or a mellotron in 2004 but Bigelf make it sound fresh and innovative.
Bigelf bring you back to the heavy edge with "Painkillers" a song that mixes T-Rex with Deep Purple, only to tread back into Floyd territory with, "Disappear' a mesmerizing and fluid psychedelic tinged rocker.
They keep things on the mellower side of rock with the next song "Rock & Roll Contract", song that blasts the exploitive nature of the music business and styled in a similar way to "I'm Going Home" from Rocky Horror, only to make way for the jam session outro.
Then Bigelf returns to the fist pounding rock world with "Sunshine Suicide", a fun rocker but not one of the standout tracks on the CD. The next song, "Falling Bombs" however, is the pinnacle of Bigelf's efforts. In just under five minutes, the pull off a multi-directional mini-rock opera. Just when you think you know where the song is going, they take you off in another direction. It's a masterful execution that mixes Sabbath, Bowie and even a bit of The Who.
"Black Moth" delves a little into Zeppelin territory with the intro guitars, but then melds into different dynamics of Rainbow meets Sabbath with a little bit of Rob Zombie thrown in. Electric rock is the order of business next with "Carry the Load", a song with fat fuzzy guitar riffs.
The eerie Pink Floydish "Burning Bridges" is another highpoint for the album. A mix of dynamics that borders on the progressive. Then Bigelf bring it home with "Bats In The Belfry I", the official closing song, a perfect culmination for the album. Although the album officially ends here, Bigelf snuck a nice little bonus track gem in at the end with what sounds like a studio outtake that some fans have labeled "$".
If you're tired of all the tired packaged rock that's on the radio, you should definitely give Bigelf a listen. Especially if you're a fan of classic Sabbath, Floyd, or Deep Purple. "Hex" shot to the Top 10 of the album charts in Northern Europe for a reason, they are the real deal. A band that's not afraid to take the best elements of yesteryear's rock and bridge them into today with a highly listenable collection of songs that just might touch off a music resurgence of those styles... if a large audience is given just a little taste of Bigelf.
With the renewed interest into the foundations
of hard rock recently seen in the US with groups like The Darkness, Bigelf
should have a ready-made audience. However, unlike The Darkness, you won't
get the annoying yodeling or campy presentation, Bigelf is far more respectful
of the music that inspired them. But so far Bigelf's rock has proved too
big for the narrow minded trend-mongering record execs in America. That
hasn't stopped them and the band seems hopeful to land on their native
shores with a release soon, but until then you can get your dose of Bigelf
by purchasing "Hex" as an import or checking out the mp3s and videos at
Bigelf.com. If you hunger for the days when Iommi riffed, Gillian
wailed and Waters lamented, then Bigelf has got you covered. If you're
too young to remember those days, check out Bigelf for something completely
different from the corporate rock that rules the airwaves today.
The ironic names aside, Bigelf does deliver respectable and memorable rock
in a big way!
Photos courtesy of Bigelf