Stormcellar – Basilisk: All Hail the Basilisk | Album Review

Stormcellar – Basilisk: All Hail the Basilisk

Self Released

10 tracks/35 minutes

A new Stormcellar album is always something I can’t wait to sink my teeth into. The Michael Barry is the lead alchemist who puts things together and he’s delivered a fantastic new effort for us to enjoy.

Barry is a creative musical genius who produces, writes songs, sings, blows harp and plays synthesizer/keys. He is edgy, breaks all the rules and yet delivers music to us that is superbly approachable and just fun to listen to. I don’t use the term musical genius lightly; he is just that and more.

Long term Stormcellar band mate Paul Reed, affectionately known as Mr. Wizard, co-wrote seven of the ten songs here. He plays guitar; his slide guitar is hard to beat. He also adds tambora, a two-headed drum used in merengue and other forms of music.  Theo Wanders is the third part of the Stormcellar triad, playing drums and handling percussion. These three guys have played together for a long time and are the heart of the band.

Also appearing here are Paul Surany on guitar and Noel Little on bass. Ben Halin is on bass for the next to last track. Abdelrahman Hariry adds his cello on the final track. Johnny G is on piano on the opening cut. Pat Powell adds backing vocals on “Soothsayer.” Michael Hawke is on sax for the title track of sorts. Other credits listed in the review of the songs.

A basilisk is a mythical snake-like venomous lizard that purportedly killed it’s victims as they gazed into it’s eyes. The legends go back to at least year 79 of the Common era, beginning with Pliny the Elder. Many others have reported on the beast, including Chaucer and da Vinci, and recently in print and film in the Harry Potter series. Some purport the legend began as man and the cobra came together, but over the centuries it has become the legendary king of the snakes, and now the theme for this album.

“A Little Too Much” opens the set. The tune reminds be a bit of the Rolling Stones, rocking out with an edgy bluesy-ness. Barry blows some truly wicked harp and sings with fierceness while Mr. Wizard gives us an all-out guitar assault to savor. This is a superb opener! Next is “Fantasia on “Dreams of Better Days.” A driving and precise beat by Theo and great vocal lead along with the pretty and ethereal support work make this one a winner.

“Hey Head In The Clouds” follows and features the James Brothers who supply banjo and vocals on this track. Barry sings lead in this rootsy and cool cut. It’s got a 1960’s sort of vibe going with a folksy rock feel to it. “I Wanna Get Next To You” is next up which has a dark and interesting intro and hardcore lyrics and lead and slide guitar. It’s quite cool.

Following that is “Something To Go By,” a blues rocker with a slick twang to it. Barry sings with feeling and the slide guitar gives us a lot to enjoy here. “We Will Not Be Forgotten/Tears of the Basilisk, Seeds of Destruction” features Skypta Vinda who arranged and sequenced the track. I’m trying to classify a genre or three here; perhaps a psychedelic, progressive rock ballad with church hymn and blues influences works. It’s interesting and cool. The throbbing beat, heady organ, march-like drumbeat and starry vocals grab the listener. The song concludes with sax, piano as part of an amazing outro.

“Running Screaming” continues the sensory onslaught. Vocals with a military aviation radio sound, a wacked out and cool groove and just more fun music to listen to. They follow that with “Soothsayer,” another number whose sound seems to remind me of the 1960s. Barry adds vocal effects to good effect, another quite intriguing piece of music.

“Replacement Heroes” has an almost didgeridoo synthesized sound effect that grabs at you. Barry sings in his forceful and convincing manner as the cut drives along to a slick groove. The album concludes with “Giants Fall.” This one opens melodically as a rock ballad that builds into a towering piece. The cello and guitar play off each other well, Barry sings with intense passion as the song winds along powerfully.

All the cuts are eclectically mixed and produced as one would expect from Stormcellar. Is it blues? Hard to tell. It’s a little bit of everything. It’s very much Stormcellar at their best. If you’ve heard them before, you know what I mean and will want to get a hold of this album. If you haven’t then go get this album so you can add Stormcellar to your playlist. You won’t regret it. Another fine endeavor by Australia’s best blues and roots rock band!

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