Artist: VHK Vágtázó Halottkémek
Album: Bite the Stars!
Label: Ektro Records
Genre: Shamanic Punk
With Bite the Stars! the Hungarian shamanic punk band VHK have released their first album in 13 years.
Why should you care about these Galloping Coroners? They've been around since 1975, but their music was initially forbidden by the regime of Hungary until 1986. Nonetheless, they were invited frequently to play gigs. Amongst the fans of VHK you can find Iggy Pop and Henry Rollins.
The music of VHK is described as shamanic punk, psychedelic hardcore or magical folk music, and originally centered around the creation of music live on stage by improvising freely on the vital powers coming from within.
VHK disbanded in 2001, and then reunited with their last line-up and started working on new material to avoid being one of the many revival bands. The new material is what we can hear now on Bite the Stars!.
The lead singer of VHK is Atilla Grandpierre, who also seems to be a worldwide famous astrophysicist. Sound all rather spacey, doesn't it? So does their music – but, I hate to say it, it all sounds a little outdated.
While the music of VHK certainly is original, with brilliant references to pop culture here and there (for example, the link to Apache on “Falling Into Love”), it does sound like music for a generation that disappeared into the fogs of history with their dreams of love and peace.
Bite the Stars! includes 7 tracks, with 1 epic track of 11 minutes long. The music sounds at times folksy, at times psychedelic/psychotic, with a dash of country, a big scoop of Hungary and twanged and angstsy vocals. Their talent surfaces at times, and results in the instant classic “Celebration of Life”.
The energy on Bite the Stars! sometimes peaks at moments where it is obvious that VHK are mostly a band you need to see live, and sometimes lulls back into a position that is too comfortable for these (former) authority-kicking gentlemen.
To sum it up: Bite the Stars! by VHK is a unique release of a band with a long and proud history, but they seem to thrive more on history and (presumably) stage performance than on high energy in this recording.
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