Destroyer of the Void
Artist: Blitzen Trapper
Label: Sub Pop
Time: 12 tracks/46 minutes
As I listen to Blitzen Trapper's Destroyer of the Void, I can just about picture what frontman Eric Earley's record collection looks like: The Beatles, Neil Young, Gram Parsons, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Billy Joel, Jethro Tull, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, and Queen, just to name a few. I'm also guessing he's into some of the prog rock bands like Rush and Yes. In other words, if you love the rock music of the late 60's and the 70's, then you will absolutely love this album.
The problem with reviewing a band like this that wears its influences on its sleeve is figuring out whether they're being derivative or taking old sounds and doing something new with them. In the case of Destroyer of the Void, it would seem to be both, though with several of these songs it's unfortunately the former more than the latter.
There are some very good songs here. The record starts with the ambitious title track, a six minute epic that gives a nice blend of styles with lots of tempo and key changes. There's also "Dragon's Song" which, with its catchy guitar lick, bears a strong resemblance to 60's pop bands like The Turtles, and psych folk singer Alela Diane shows up for a pretty duet on "The Tree" that brings to mind Emmylou Harris singing with Bob Dylan.
Earley's lyrics are often vague at best and will usually leave you scratching your head if you try too hard to decipher their meaning. Occasionally there are exceptions like "The Man Who Would Speak True," a Dylanesque track consisting of mostly acoustic guitar and harmonica, and the album's best song. The song is a ballad, told by a man feeling remorse for his sins, and he acknowledges the damage mere words can do:
For there ain't no road
but the road to home
Because I enjoy and/or appreciate
some of the artists I listed at the beginning of this review, I liked this
record. It also helps that the guys in Blitzen Trapper are very accomplished
musicians, but because the band rarely stretches beyond its influences,
I personally don't find a lot of replay value in the record as a whole.
However, if you absolutely love the sounds of the artists I listed above
as well as Blitzen Trapper's peers like My Morning Jacket and Dr. Dog,
then you might find yourself settling in for some repeat listens.