Following the paths of the various members of Deep Purple lead me to Captain Beyond. DP Mk I vocalist Rod Evans took up the mic for Captain Beyond. But what thrilled me was that Iron Butterfly's guitarist Larry (Rhino) Rienhardt and bassist Lee Dorman were also part of this outfit. Rhino appeared on the final Butterfly studio effort Metamorphosis before the band split up for a while (restarted later for two albums by "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida"/"Ball" guitarist Erik Brann). Metamorphosis is my favourite Iron Butterfly album because of the guitar sound and variety of riffs, rhythms and time signatures.
Captain Beyond's first album does not disappoint. It starts off a rock album with no gimmicks or tricks. Rhino's innovative guitar playing is backed by a heavy rhythm section provided by Dorman's bass and the splintering drums of Bobby Caldwell (Who? Well, you know him now!). The man has a full arsenal of drumming skill and he doesn't hold back. Rod Evans was never much of a hard rock vocalist but he gives it a good effort, sometimes surprisingly on the edge, once or twice a little over the edge of his abilities. By the time the album reaches tracks four and five - "Mesmerization Eclipse" and "Raging River of Fear" respectively - you are starting to wonder if these guys plan to just rock away the whole album. In fact, there are only a couple of acoustic parts and no real ballads. Any track that starts slow doesn't stay that way for much more than a minute. Then it's back to the hard rock and roll machinegun attack. The final track "I Can't Feel Nothin' (Part II)" closes the album with a brief but rock out tune that should encourage fist pumping and head banging.
Like Iron Butterfly's "Metamorphosis", Captain Beyond's first album features ever changing guitar riffs, chord progressions, and time signatures. As my old guitar teacher said about Butterfly, "It's as if they are trying to put as many notes in the song as possible." The album has two song clusters, groups of related tracks with parts and intros. Sometimes it is hard to tell when one track has ended and the next has begun. The lyrics of "Myopic Void" close with the title for "Dancing Madly Backwards (On a Sea of Air)". On the other hand, the 15- second instrumental "Astral Lady" is nothing more than a guitar solo joining "As the Moon Speaks (To the Waves of the Sea)" and "As the Moon Speaks (Return)". You might wonder why the guitar break was only 15 seconds. What was the point of giving it a name? Maybe it was a psychedelic thing.
The guitar sound never gets really heavy with distortion. A suitable comparison would be Oasis's "F**king in the Bushes". Nevertheless, the album rocks and Captain Beyond proves to have no shortage of ideas for the guitar. By the time the album has played through you'll be wondering what hit you.
As a proto-metal album it fits the bill nicely. Highly recommended to heavy prog and 70's hard rock fans.