You have to admit, the Italians do retro pretty well and the 70’s do seem to be their halcyon period. Maybe it’s the influence of cult horror directors such as Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci or some inherent genetic anomaly that spawned so many obscure prog bands in the 70’s that gives them the edge when it comes to flexing their old school muscles.
When I was passed these two EPs, an untitled two tracker and the four track “The Flying Machines Burning” both from 2008, I’d been told that these guys from the mountains turn out some credible retro rock but I didn’t expect to be some damn impressed. In the two weeks since these landed through my door I have been drawn back to them time and again as if in the thrall of some bizarre voodoo curse.
Formed in 2005, inspired by a local gig by Firebird, Doctor Cyclops seem to have quickly nailed the sounds of a bygone era. The Firebird influence is apparent, and by extension the blues rock of 70’s bands such as Humble Pie and Free, but there is also a more unorthodox, dare I say it prog tinged hue at work here that brings to mind Witchcraft and to a certain extent Cathedral, albeit lacking the latter’s immense crushing doom weight.
The untitled EP is probably the more experimental of the two offerings here. “My Revolution” breaks down into a tripped out and jamming mid section sandwiched by some nifty blues riffing and impassioned Ozzy-esque vocals from guitarist Christian. The implausibly titleD “Angel Saviour in the Cannibal House” starts innocently enough but heads down some truly bizarre tangents with spoken word segments floating over the oppressive groove laid down by the band.
After a tasty start, the next release “The Flying Machines Burning” sees Doctor Cyclops coalesce their sound into a more succinct and classic vibe. The more esoteric excesses of the previous EP are trimmed to reveal a more muscular and tight band with more considered songwriting chops. Both “Night Flyer” and “Eileen O’Flaherty” pile on the riffs and lay down a groove that could have come straight from 1973…before these guys were even born I suspect.
Doctor Cyclops aren’t afraid to put their balls on the line either as the EP closes with not one but two covers. “Born To Die In Berlin” is a Ramones cover which, to their credit, the band instill with their own sound and render it about as far from the Ramones style as it could possibly be. “Freelance Fiend” is the undeniably classic Leafhound track and , again to their credit, the good Doctors nail it in a faithful rendition with Christian giving a passable performance that almost nails Pete French’s soulful wail. It’s a brave move that could have bitten them in the ass but in this case the sheer passion in the delivery alongside the strength of their own material wins out.
It’s good to know that stuck away in the foothills of the Italian mountains there is a band untouched by time that still spin their Sir Lord Baltimore and Captain Beyond vinyls and crank up their valves amps in veneration to a beautiful era. I wouldn’t be surprised to see, in a couple of years time, Lee Dorrian chucking a few quid their way to make an album for Rise Above…here’s hoping at least. In the meantime I shall be on these guys backs to hit the studio again.
Label: Self Released
Scribed by: Ollie Stygall