Blue Öyster Cult, the iconic New York rock band, has been going strong since the late '60s and quickly grew into one of the biggest powerhouses of the '70s with their spooky mix of psychedelics, blues rock, and gothic imagery to this very day. Along with Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, BÖC are among many bands that helped shape what we know today as metal.
With their latest release, the band has remastered one of their compilations entitled Cult Classic, where they re-recorded many of their classic hits. Everything from “Godzilla” to “Burnin' For You” to “Don’t Fear the Reaper” are among the collection of tracks on this record. The benefit of modern production on these tracks really enhance songs like “Godzilla” and especially the freakout-solo section of “Don't Fear the Reaper.” Blue Öyster Cult have always been known to create an atmosphere with their music, and the production on this reissue helps to engulf the listener in that sound space.
While not everything is necessarily heavy, songs like "E.T.I." and "Harvester of Eyes" are still exceptional slices of hard rock. These songs also help show how much of an influence this band has had on subsequent decades of metal music. The tight guitar work sprinkled throughout the epic "Astronomy" explains why Metallica went on to cover the track on their Garage Inc. record. Also, the band’s inclusion of a studio version of the live favorite “Buck’s Boogie” is a great way to close out the record.
However, there are a few issues that go along with this record. While the production certainly brings the punch to certain tunes, other aspects of the songs tend to get left by the wayside. The rerun of “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll” leaves a little to be desired, and the cowbell from “Don’t Fear the Reaper” is buried low in the mix, which is incredibly frustrating for anyone who has had any experience watching SNL. These re-recorded tracks are good, but this album is certainly not going to replace the band’s classic material.
This is still an incredibly fun release though. This is definitely something to pick up as a good introduction to Blue Öyster Cult's sound. It’s nothing new necessarily, but this greatest-hits collection is something that could get fans with some passing interest that drive to seek out more of their material. If you like what you hear on this record, there is a hard rock gold mine in the band's back catalog just waiting to be stumbled upon. A nice throwback from the band that laid the groundwork for metal music.