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(Don't Fear) the Reaper - Blue Oyster Cult

This is a weird track in that Blue Oyster Cult were (or even are) a heavy metal band, building most of their songs around fairly chunky chords and riffs. So it's ironic that their most famous track by far is this glorious treatise on death, which sounds more like it was recorded by a West Coast band rather than the East Coast outfit they really were: coming from Long Island they started about as East as you can get.

In fact they sound very like the Byrds, which gives the record its strange, mysterious, slightly sinister atmosphere. It feels like a cult record - "cult" in the term of a strange neo religious group, but it's entirely compelling, right from the faintly familiar driving guitar (where have we heard that line before?), to the great McGuinn / Clark style harmonies, the Stevie Millerstyle guitar break and then the heavy moment in the middle, with the guitar motif repeated tensely in a higher key that sounds like the sands of time running out, then back we go to the more comfortable timbre except this time there's a screaming monotone guitar note in the background like the kettle of time boiling, it's time it's time.

The words suggest that we shouldn't fear the reaper, but the edgy feel of the song, that should be smooth, haunts us with familiarity like a ghost, and the edgy tone all the way through belie these words. All of this, coupled with the song's driving pace and energy, leave you feeling exhilarated and with a heightened sense of being alive.

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