Blue Öyster Cult, Fire of Unknown Origin

There's a good reason this is the BÖC album everyone remembers, and that's because it's easily some of their most consistent output on one record. Calling it heavy metal is a bit of stretch, ironically given "Veteran of the Psychic Wars" prominence in the actual Heavy Metal movie (for which "Vengeance (The Pact)" was also intended), but there is solid and listenable hard rock to be had in general, particularly those two and (heh) "Heavy Metal" itself. This doesn't mean this album is perfect, though: "Burnin' For You" is a Cult classic, but its pop single tendencies sound out of place with the other tracks, and on the second half "After Dark" is boring drivel and I've still got no idea what to do thematically with "Joan Crawford" (though I've always liked the piano intro). Those latter two oddballs are fortunately quickly forgotten with my favourite track as closer, "Don't Turn Your Back," a fascinating feast of menacing lyrics, disquieting harmonies and unsettlingly cheery syncopation. If there is truly a central theme to this stylistically varied album, it would be indeed that undercurrent of menace and looming disaster as forces beyond our control assemble against us, and yet we shoulder on, knowing we have no choice. Such forces, in the disinterested cosmos this album paints, descend upon us from somewhere we will never truly know or understand. And this album does capture that feeling of hopeless struggle, however unevenly. (Content: no concerns.)