Upon release in 1972, Vertigo Records proclaimed, "Dead Forever is better in quality, production and music-wise than Black Sabbath's Vol. 4." While hyperbolic marketing is nothing new, this statement is largely misguided, unfair to the band, and generally misrepresentative of Buffalo's powers. The mighty Sabbath are their most obvious influence, but for the most part they're better when attempting something other than primal heavy metal. The record opens with a satisfyingly dreamy, otherworldly tone that recalls post-Barrett Pink Floyd (oddly, they don't explore this style further), before making an abrupt and clumsy segue into Sabbath land, sounding like awkward teenagers struggling to emulate their heroes. But Buffalo is more accomplished than that, and they quickly prove it with "Suzy Sunshine," a cloudless blues-rock number that possesses a vocal closely resembling one Ozzy Osbourne -- minus the doom-and-gloom. Guitarist John Baxter's talent becomes apparent here as well, an impression confirmed with his tasteful, Hendrix-inspired intro for "Pay My Dues." This Blues Image cover later features a nice trade-off between the two lead vocalists (yes there are two, yet neither plays an instrument), and during Free's "I'm a Mover" one or both of the vocalists hit high notes that would do any metal fan proud. "Ballad of Irving Fink" is a near-glam boogie rock tune with more fine vocalizing, and "Bean Stew" finds the group at the crossroads of late-'60s garage and early-'70s hard rock. A definite highlight. "Forrest Rain" is another detour, this one a moody, melancholy piece with a light psychedelic soundtrack and an Ozzy-like lyrical honesty. But the whole album seems like a warm-up when the awesome title track appears, a wobble-inducing Black Sabbath homage where the unit beams despite the morbid subject manner (led by Baxter, who really gives Tony Iommi a run for his money), and appears worthy of the extravagant publicity.
Dead Forever... Review
by Bart Bealmear