Blue Ӧyster Cult
‘The Symbol Remains’
FFO: Black Sabbath, Ghost, Deep Purple, Styx, Horisont, Boston, Lucifer’s Friend
It has been nearly 40 years since Blue Ӧyster Cult (BӦC) were rolling in the success of their heyday. Since then hard rock’s most intelligent band have sadly been on a steady decline that culminated in their lacklustre ‘Curse of the Hidden Mirror’ album in 2001. This was followed by several interviews where Eric Bloom and Buck Dharma professed that it is not financially viable to release new material and instead, they would concentrate upon touring. It may have taken the best part of 19 years, but BӦC have finally got that itch again and have finally released their fifteenth studio album ‘The Symbol Remains’.
This may be the first album since ‘Club Ninja’ to not feature the late Allen Lainer, but it does mean that long time members Richie Castellano and Jules Radio get to make their debut and they do with this with style and grace. Therefore, ‘The Symbol Remains’ is not an album of BӦC going through the motions, it is a mature album that shows the band tentatively testing the water without diving in with both feet with tracks such as ‘The Alchemist’, ‘Box in My Head’ and ‘That Was Me’ really harking back to the bands glory days with their tongue twisting, thought provoking metaphorical lyrics; whilst Castellano channels the BӦC mantra perfectly with the vampire-esque ‘Tainted Blood’ and the ‘The Return of St. Cecilia’. However, there are points of ‘The Symbol Remains’ that are not necessarily needed, ‘The Machine’ and ‘Florida Man’ are massively forgettable as is the track ‘Fight’, a song previously penned on a Dharma solo album and wouldn’t be missed if this album was trimmed down to around 10 or 11 tracks.
It is good to have BӦC back, it has certainly been far too long. Whilst this album may be a far cry from the bands halcyon days, it is definitely worth a listen as the band beautifully embrace their twilight years with an elegant album which grows and grows with each listen as it implores the listener to play it over and over again and fans of classic rock or that retro sound will adore what they hear here.