Label: Rainman Records
Released: August 21, 2007
Most people probably fall into one of two camps regarding their expectations for Blue Cheer’s latest album, What Doesn’t Kill You: One group expects this album, featuring 2/3 of the Vincebus Eruptum lineup, to be an amazing return to past form, proving that Blue Cheer is as vital today amongst their stoner rock devotees as they were in 1968. The other group expects this, their first album since 1991 (first in the US since 1984), to be just another in a sporadic run of attempts to relive past glory. The truth is that neither is correct.
What Doesn’t Kill You does stick largely to what Blue Cheer always did best, slow, heavy, psychedelic grooves. Their mind-altering power doesn’t burn quite as brightly as it once did (although the lyrics imply that it is not for lack of drug use) and by and large the new album takes a bluesier turn without abandoning all of their fuzzed out thunder. The opening track is a bit of a shock initially, sounding as though they had spent some part of the last few years listening to Motorhead, but it turns out to be an anomaly. “Young Lions in Paradise,” their take on a rock ballad is the album’s only misfire, but even there they achieve some degree of heaviness.
For those expecting Vincebus Eruptum, this album won’t measure up, but for those fearing a disaster, this will be more than just a pleasant surprise. Blue Cheer does fail to match their past, but in trying they show why they’re still imitated almost 40 years later.
For another opinion on this one, check out the Heavy Metal Time Machine.