Bloodrock

Bloodrock

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1969 saw the first rumblings of heavy metal with debut releases from bands likes of Mott the Hoople and Grand Funk Railroad. Bloodrock, a Texas-based quintet, also released their debut during this time (and like Grand Funk Railroad, they were managed and produced by Terry Knight). Bloodrock may not be as well remembered today as the aforementioned groups, but their first release remains a cult favorite among fans of hard rock. Their sound is reminiscent of Deep Purple, with electric guitar and organ dueling over a throbbing beat. However, Jim Rutledge's gruff, whiskey-throated vocals lend a rural tinge to the group's music that sets them apart. As expected for a heavy metal band, the songwriting themes tend to be pretty ominous: "Double Cross" is a gleeful hymn to revenge, and "Timepiece" recounts the final thoughts of a death row prisoner about to be sent to the gallows. The band doesn't always know when to edit their jams ("Timepiece"), and some of the songs feel more like a collection of riffs than fully thought-out compositions ("Wicked Truth"), but the group's powerful attack helps smooth over the rough spots to make an engaging slab of proto-metal. The album's highlights are the final two songs: "Fantastic Piece of Architecture" uses a combination of Doors-like funereal organ and piano to create a creepy atmosphere, and "Melvin Laid an Egg" blends pile-driving riffs with gentle bridges of piano, and harmony vocals to bring its surreal lyric about a freak-show-dwelling capitalist to life. Overall, Bloodrock lacks the crossover appeal to win fans outside of its cult reputation, but it remains an interesting listen for those interested in the development of heavy metal.

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