The Cosmic Dead: Inner Sanctum – album review

The Cosmic Dead ‘Inner Sanctum’ (Evil Hoodoo)
Ltd Cassette/DL
Released 12th April 2013

There is much truth told in jest. On The Cosmic Dead’s Facebook page, they comically refer to themselves as ‘Scotland’s foremost Hawkwind tribute band. No less, mind’. There is more than a fair whiff of Pachoulli oil about these chaps and their name alone should give you fair indication of what to expect, but in all fairness, there is far more to this band than a faded copy of Space Ritual and hackneyed Dave Brock-ian guitar chug.

The Cosmic Dead have seen something a flurry of release activity recently. Not least, their self-titled debut cassette has been repressed onto vinyl and sold out at source pretty damn quickly. If you see this record in the racks, I heartily suggest you pick it up immediately. The tracks on the vinyl have been doing the rounds for a couple of years now, and I for one was interested to see where The Cosmic Dead are at these days. I’m pleased to report that they are pretty much in the same place as the last time I encountered them; riding the spaceways with their kraut inflected space-rock, as if in the wake of a huge glittery comet.

The opening track, Gustav Bjornstrand is definitely route-one space rock, a surging and muscular flight garlanded by oscillating tones. There is some metaphysical spoken word running through the beginning of the track. I’m not sure, but as every Google search for Gustav Bjornstrand turns up a reference to My Dinner With Andre, then I’m going to assume its taken from that. There is also some linkage to Scotland’s hippy sanctuary, Findhorn, and The Cosmic Dead sound like they could well be a potential house band for the place.

The Mass of Betelguese is slightly more introspective and proggy, yet is still underpinned with the band’s signature bass heavy groove and expands comfortably into its 20 minute plus running time. It seems very much like the album is all recorded live, and that there is a lot of responding to each others playing, kinetically and telepathically. There are shades of a post-Syd Floyd at their most spaced out starting to creep through the mix too.

Inner Sanctum starts with quite a heavy debt to Gnod & White Hill’s peerless Drop Out album, but that is certainly no crime in my book, not least as it grows its own legs and develops into a wonderfully epic Neu!-esque jam. The album closes with the creepy Hello Satan, a slow and steady descent that owes something (knowingly or not) to the Giallo soundtracks of Goblin, by way of Black Sabbath.

The Cosmic Dead are proving themselves to be one of the leading lights of the current crop of space/kraut bands doing the rounds, and this humble cassette justifies that assessment with these four wonderful and sprawling tracks. Essential.

All words by Brett Savage. More work on Louder Than War by Brett Savage can be found here.

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