Blitzen Trapper – Destroyer Of The Void [Album Review]

by Woody on September 9, 2010

Whoops. Only we could get forget to review the band who’s album we ranked number 1 two years ago. Maybe it was because it lacked the wow-factor of Furr, but despite many reviews stating the contrary, I’m not convinced that Furr is a better album. I spun both albums back to back (twice) and, at the end of my little sonic journey, I loved both equally. Furr was a gigantic leap forward from Wild Mountain Nation (a fantastic album in its own right), so Destroyer had some expectations to live up to.

What’s changed? Destroyer is proggy. As an avid fan of Yes, ELP and the Peter Gabriel led Genesis (Phil Collins is a pussy – great drummer though), I welcome this change with open arms. The opener and title track fully embodies this prog element. Part Nursery Cryme, part Harvest with just a hint of Abbey Road for flavor, this tune is the front runner for my favorite song of the year. They swing for the fences, cramming numerous ideas, tempo changes and flourishes to come up with an absolute stunner. If the whole album were this adventurous, I would have had a seizure on my back deck.

What else? They have guest collaborators. Alela Diane joins the band for “The Tree” and she sounds divine singing alongside Eric Earley. She should be a permanent member of Blitzen Trapper. Somebody needs to make this happen.

What hasn’t changed? Earley can still spin a tale. “The Man Who Would Speak True” is cut from the same mold as “Black River Killer” (easily my favorite tune off of Furr). They still like to include tunes with “and” or “+”. Much like Furr had “God + Suicide” and “Fire + Fast Bullets” back to back, Destroyer has “Love and Hate” and “Heaven and Earth” back to back. Not relevant, but it seems like interesting trivia somehow.

Where do they go from here? Blitzen Trapper is one the best bands touring today. Their live performances are killer and their albums are each uniquely spectacular. Unlike many bands we’re encountering this year that rehash their same sounds, Blitzen Trapper makes bold, risk-taking moves that keep fans on their toes. So in concluding one of the most rambling reviews I have ever penned for HearYa, I’ll leave you with this. If you don’t have this album, just get it and spend lots of quality time with it. It’s one of my favorites of the year.

Blitzen Trapper – Heaven And Earth

Blitzen Trapper – Dragon’s Song

From Furr:

Blitzen Trapper – Black River Killer

Blitzen Trapper – Gold For Bread

Blitzen Trapper – Furr

Blitzen Trapper – Sadie

Blitzen Trapper – Below The Hurricane (acoustic)

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Eugenia September 9, 2010 at 12:47 pm

I’m one of those who think that “Furr” was a better album. To me, the new album is kind of stale, kind of dry somehow. It feels like it uses melodies that I have heard many times before, while “Furr” gave a new spin to ’70s music somehow. It was more adventurous, less contrived. So, not as hooky, not as exciting, and it had overly too many of these “changes in the melody” that Eric Earley does with his voice (which I personally always disliked). If the iTunes number of ratings (compared to “Furr”), and the live audience’s reaction in SF was any indication, I think most people preferred “Furr”.

Woody September 9, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Eugenia – that’s a fair comment. I do think that Destroyer suffers because it wasn’t the massive leap forward that Furr was. It would be interesting to see what had happened if they were released in opposite order. Obviously impossible but an interesting thought nonetheless.

I just don’t think that Destroyer is any kind of step backwards. Thanks for reading.

Shirk September 9, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Would it be fair to say that Destroyer is to Furr what Amnesiac was to Kid A? Obviously very different bands ….but the latter albums felt like B-sides to their predecessors.

When I first heard “Heaven and Earth”, I was really pumped to get my hands on Destroyer. But when I did, it just never got me that excited. I agree with Eugenia in that many of the melodies feel somehow recycled. That happens sometimes…even to the “greats”. Still a BT fan here though. I don’t reach for Destroyer that much, but I never skip a track when it comes up on Shuffle.

Eugenia September 9, 2010 at 2:28 pm

That’s indeed a very interesting thought!! If Furr was the album released now, with WMN and DotV being their previous albums, I think it could have made Blitzen Trapper super-stars. These two previous albums could have laid the right groundwork, and would give the band a good push in mind-share in the indie world. And when Furr would get released this past summer, it could just make the band explode in popularity. :o )

Matt Bialer September 9, 2010 at 5:42 pm

These guys are a really excellent band. I saw them at a brief, guest appearance at Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park, Brooklyn this summer. They were great. And Phil Collins is a pussy but indeed a great prog drummer.

Bridgy September 9, 2010 at 8:25 pm

I love sadie! Great voice and great lyric
Good luck guys
your Bridgy soft piano music artist

Andy January 19, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Destroyer was the first Blitzen Trapper album I listened to, my only previous experience with them being the song Black River Killer. I liked that song but it didn’t compel me to rush out and buy the album. When I heard the title track of Destroyer on the radio however, I was blown away and immediately headed to the record store. I think the only reason people have given this album bad reviews is that they expected another Furr. I find it funny that one of the most original and inventive bands I’ve heard in years is getting flak for incorporating new influences and textures to their sound instead of simply retreading their earlier style.

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