German riff masher BLACK SPACE RIDERS this year takes the same idea as BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME and splits a would-be double album over two separate release dates. Naturally, there's pressure upon an artist to deliver a knockout finish when operating in this manner, and BTBAM certainly delivered the goods on "Automata Part 2". Though BLACK SPACE RIDERS is still looking to capture as comparable an audience, the group remains one of the finest sludge-prog acts on the planet. That being said, the mere intent of its "Amoretum" project is ballsy. "Amoretum Vol. 1" was a bit dicey for a band as loud and as crushingly talented as this one. A bit too much hanging inside the hothouse flowers of classic alternative rock with the intent of mirroring instead of capitalizing left a question mark hovering as to what the second half would bring.
The good news is "Amoretum Vol. 2" is vastly superior to its predecessor, tapping more into the gristle and the bombast of the 2010 self-titled album, "D:REI" and "Light is the New Black", while revisiting the breath-stealing progressions mapped through its "Refugeeum" couplet. Best yet, BLACK SPACE RIDERS tinkers with its own motherboard to interface with occasional punk and reggae connectors. There's even a goofy, if stupidly addictive bit of POGUES adulation with the Celtic toast jam, "Slainte (Salud, dinero, amor)". To your health, indeed.
Broken down into four sub-chapters, "Amoretum Vol. 2" takes off with the snarling rocker, "Before My Eyes", a rough and tumble brawler setting this thing off with a giddy stomp. The vocals may be on the nutty side, but the fuzzy slings of MEI's bass and SLI's wah-tickling guitars remind listeners of the cosmic pastures from which this band reaps. Give "LoveLoveLoveLoveLoveLoveLoveLoveLove! (Break the Pattern of Fear) " credit as the longest song title of the year, if not in the running for all-time. Plugging in a cryptic series of Mellotron tones, this one kicks up a mosh on a flurry of back-and-forth chords with C.RIP smacking a vigorous rhythm. The song's chomp makes its mongrel-slung choruses all the more entertaining.
For more punk fun (and it's serious fun), C.RIP slams the snot out of the 2:17 minutes of "Assimilating Love", a hardcore heaven number with bouncing riffs to match its pummeling tempo. The oddity to follow is the slow 'n' easy lounge lizard, "In Our Garden", which strangely works with its sensuous chimes, lagging bass and shimmering synths. It's like someone breaking in with Bend Over Shirley cocktails at a beer fest.
BLACK SPACE RIDERS, of course, indulges its progressive side all over the album, dropping logical extensions of the "Refugeeum" sessions on "Walls Away", and particularly "Leaves of Life", which builds in similar fashion on its trotting rhythm and U2-based riffs. Similarly, on "No Way", only with heavier bass accents and screamed-out torment torching the way toward a heaving sonic splash in the vein of MONSTER MAGNET.
"Take Me to the Stars" says everything you can expect from it, inclusive of a swaggering climb, a hip-strut and reggae-splashed reverb. It also bears a chorus you can hardly oppose. "Body Move" is likewise irresistible with its hilarious clap-along and humped-out bass line, an intentional farce of sweat rock with unashamed estrogen making it a total gas. Yet there's a giant groove to the thing letting the guitars plank over it soothingly.
The "Ch Ch Ch Ch" (not a Voorhees death chant) double act combines for eleven-plus minutes of initially hazy, later cranked-up drone. The 12:45 closer "The Wait is Never Over" (style points of smarm awarded) trails from a long, if appealing wormhole of echoing dub, dumping listeners into a gorgeous nebula where distortion rules.
Dynamics being "Amoretum Vol. 2"'s biggest asset, the album is equivalent to a piece of bubblegum coated with extra sugar, built to hang upon the palette for more than an hour and happily left in repeated consumption mode.