Blue Öyster Cult

Veteran of the Psychic Wars

Composed by Eric Bloom / Michael Moorcock

Song Review by

This moody mini-epic, a highlight of the Fire of Unknown Origin album, blends art rock, new wave, and heavy metal elements into one singularly potent track. The lyrics, penned with noted sci-fi author Michael Moorcock, tell the weary tale of a futuristic warrior who finds himself drained and hopeless from years of ceaseless warfare. The music echoes the alienated tone of these lyrics with a minor-key melody that moves at a dirge-like tempo. "Veteran of the Psychic Wars" could have ended up sounding dull in the wrong hands but Blue Öyster Cult's recording of the song works nicely thanks to atmospheric arrangement full of little details that give the song a cinematic feel: heavily echoed militaristic drum beats drive the song, a cello adds a moody texture during the synth-heavy instrumental breaks, and Buck Dharma unleashes an eerie guitar solo during the midsection that effectively mirrors the quietly anguished tone of Eric Bloom's lead vocal. The cinematic feel was no chance occurrence: it was one of a series of songs that Blue Öyster Cult wrote for the animated fantasy hit Heavy Metal and ended up being the song the producers chose. It fit the film's comic book-styled animation beautifully, proving that "Veteran of the Psychic Wars" was one of Blue Öyster Cult's finest ventures into the fantastique.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Fire of Unknown Origin 1981 Sbme Special Mkts.
Heavy Metal 1981
Original Soundtrack
Elektra / Asylum 4:48
Extraterrestrial Live 1982 Columbia 8:10
Workshop of the Telescopes 1995 Columbia/Legacy 4:48
Tales of the Psychic War, Vols. 1-2 2001 Pilot 4:39
The Essential Blue Öyster Cult 2003 Columbia / Legacy 4:49
Alive in America, Pt. 1 2006 Renaissance Records 4:39
Live in America 2007 The Store for Music 4:38
Triple Feature 2009 Sony Music Distribution / Sony BMG / Sony Classics 8:10
Original Album Classics [2012] 2012 Columbia / Sony Music
The  Complete Columbia Albums Collectiön 2012 Columbia / Sony Legacy 8:07
Original Album Classics 2013 Legacy / Sony Legacy 4:50
The Box Set Series 2014 Legacy / Sony Legacy 4:49
Forbidden Delights/Los Angeles 1981 Gossip / Music Video Distribution 8:10
The Music of Blue Öyster Cult Columbia / Legacy 4:49
blue highlight denotes editor's pick