Album review: Blue Öyster Cult, Heaven Forbid (1998)



By Steve Newton

Don’t let the cheapjack horror-movie cover fool ya, ’cause Heaven Forbid—Blue Öyster Cult’s first new recording since 1988’s substandard Imaginos—is one classy slab of hard rock. It’s not a masterwork in the league of Tyranny and Mutation or Agents of Fortune, but it still recalls the ’70s-rock ideals of intricate arrangements, provocative lyrics, and spine-tingling guitar solos.

Original guitarist-vocalists Eric Bloom and Don “Buck Dharma” Roeser are still hanging in there, along with original guitarist-keyboardist Allen Lanier, and they’re joined on most of Heaven Forbid’s 11 tunes by current BOC bassist Danny Miranda and veteran session drummer Chuck Burgi. The crusty rockers sound in top form, whether on the thrashy and menacing opener, “See You in Black”, the sci-fi epic “X-Ray Eyes”, or the mythical and atmospheric “Harvest Moon”.

Producer Roeser—who forged such sparkling gems as “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” and “Burnin’ for You”—is a commanding presence, having written or cowritten all but the live remake of 1979’s “In Thee”. His “Live for Me” is an uplifting ode to dealing with tragedy that deserves to have its melodic message carried on the airwaves. I’m talkin’ to you, CFOX. Or CFMI. Last one to play it is a rotten egg.

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