THE SHIVER — Walpurgis

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THE SHIVER - Walpurgis cover
3.50 | 1 rating | 1 review
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Album · 1969

Filed under Proto-Metal
By THE SHIVER

Tracklist

1. Repent Walpurgis
2. Ode To The Salvation Army
3. Leave This Man Alone
4. What's Wrong About The Blues
5. Hey Mr. Holy Man
6. Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
7. No Time
8. The Peddle

Line-up/Musicians

Dany Ruhle / lead guitar, harmonica, vocal
Jelly Pastorini / organ, piano
Mario Conza / bass, flute, vocal
Roger Maurer / drums, vocal

About this release

1969 - Maris(Germany)
1997 - Red Fox(France) CD
2003 - M2U(South Korea) CD: CD sized album replica, remastered, limited & numbered edition
2004 - Garden Of Delights(Germany) CD: bonus tracks
2010 - Garden Of Delights(Germany) LP: gatefold, bonus tracks, numbered edition
2010 - Maris(Germany) LP: reissue, gatefold, limited edition

Thanks to Certif1ed for the addition and cannon, aglasshouse for the updates

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siLLy puPPy
Occult themes in popular rock music were nonexistent until the year 1967 when The Beatles decided to include Aleister Crowley on the jam-packed but obviously symbolic album cover of “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club.” This mere reference that was most likely due to the official birth of Anton LeVey’s Church of Satan in 1966 seemed to open the flood gates in the experimental themes of musicians of the late 1960s and in no time at all occult themes started to trickle in with each new stab at incorporating the darker aspects of reality becoming a bit bolder. After The Beatles epic album came the first shock rock of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown as well as The Rolling Stones playing keep up with albums like “Their Satanic Majesties Request” all the way up to Coven’s debut that included a black mass ritual which all continued with bands like Black Widow, C.A. Quintet and finally Black Sabbath launching completely new tritone evil sounds that would become known as heavy metal.

Included in this eclectic mix of occult themed bands is the relatively obscure Swiss band THE SHIVER which released its sole artifact WALPURGIS in 1969 and displayed the very first album cover to feature the macabre art of Swiss artist H.R. Giger. The title WALPURGIS is thought of as an ancient Pagan holiday or the spring equivalent of Halloween but in modern times is better known as the holy time of the year for the Satanic cults that worship Molech and other dark forces like Lucifer or Satan. They perform human sacrifices in order to pay the evil spirits so that they can do the bidding of those who seek greater powers from the evil forces. Like many of these early proto bands, THE SHIVER never explicitly engaged in such promotion of the occult but rather flirted with its existence through its lyrics and visual imagery in the context of the contemporary popular sounds of the era.

WALPURGIS is a strange but IMHO woefully overlooked album from the early nascent cradle of when the progressive rock world was taking its first steps out of the melting pot of 60s psychedelia. Formed in 1967 as Der Seiger in the Swiss city of St. Gallen by guitarist and singer Dany Rühle, this band actually has ties with another Swiss band with a Giger cover, namely Island through the connection of yet another contemporary band called Deaf. With a short stint under the moniker The Shivers, the final S was dropped with a final lineup of Dany Rühle (guitar, harmonica, vocals), Jelly Pastorini (organ, piano), Mario Conza (bass, flute, vocals), Roger Maurer (drums, vocals) and Peter Robinson (lead vocals). While the band was clearly edging toward the future with progressive rock tendencies, THE SHIVER was certainly no King Crimson or East of Eden and existed in a somewhat anachronistic psychedelic swirl of organs and blues guitar that were all the rage in 1967’s Summer of Love.

This is a bizarre album in many ways but mostly musically because in its brief 34 minute run, the album displays many sounds that seem unrelated but yet somehow are cohesively tied by a mysterious atmosphere that permeates the various sounds on display. One of the first idiosyncrasies of the album is that it begins not with a heavy vocal driven rocker that was self-penned by the band but rather sets the tone with a lengthy seven minute cover of Procol Harum’s “Repent Walpurgis” which is psychedelic instrumental treat fortified with J.S. Bach’s “Prelude No. 1” from the “Well-Tempered Clavier” only with a dreamy organ, lazy beatnik percussive drive and melodic soaring blues guitar riffs that find an independent bass groove independently set apart from the rest of the crowd. As the lengthiest piece and most progressive of the pack, is the likely reason that THE SHIVER has for so long been included on lists of some of the earliest examples of proto-progressive rock.

The rest of the album takes a different journey whether its the short second honky tonk track “Ode To The Salvation Army” or the 60s beat psychedelic pop rock followup “Leave This Man Alone.” While the blues rock returns on “What’s Wrong About The Blues” which displays a rather generic deliver, “Hey Mr Holy Man,” a version of “Dies-Irae” on the other hand delivers the goods of what one would expect to hear from an album with such an album cover. The creepy ethereal mix of organs, hazy percussive drive and dueling aspects of spaced out choral vocal utterances with spoken narration and a groovy free flowing melodic groove is the best track on the album and one of the highlights of all acid rock of the era.

Also included is a cover of the Animals’ “Don’t Be Misunderstood” which keeps the album’s overall feel in the 1966 / 67 timeline with its beat grooves and mid-60s pop sensibilities. “No Time” follows suit and the closer “The Peddle” ends with another lazy psychedelic organ driven blues rock groove. While admittedly not the best example of any style of the 60s, this album has become a cult legend for different reasons altogether. WALPURGIS is really sloppy in a garage band sort of way with crude performances and lo-fi production values, however coupled with the darkly themed album cover art and the mysterious nature of the band’s history it somehow has become entangled within the history of metal music despite having nothing remotely metal in terms of musical origins. On the other hand it more than delivers an occult ritualistic feel with heavy psych freakiness that has inspired the stylistic approach of metal bands much like early albums by Venom hinted at black metal without actually being so.

WALPURGIS is an album that doesn’t work on so many levels but yet i’m endeared to it for some reason, feeling like i shouldn’t like it as much as i do but somehow find like an invisible planet on the other side of the sun, it exerts some sort of undetectable gravitational pull and while it utterly defies logical explanation, somehow this album has gotten under the skin of many over the decades but i do wonder if the effect would have held up as strongly as it has if it would’ve had pink elephants on the cover instead of the creepy Giger creations. Whatever the case, this is an album i don’t want to like but do even upon multiple listens, i keep coming back for more. Utterly out of touch with its timeline and stubbornly unprofessional in every sense of the term, THE SHIVER has nonetheless weaseled its way into the hearts of the underground cult section of the record store and continues to do so even with the modern re-issues that contain bonus tracks. As far as i know, no life was sacrificed in the making of this album but in the mysterious world of occult rituals, one can never be sure.

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