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Birth Of Joy - Hyper Focus album review

Hard-rocking Dutch trio take the prog route

Birth Of Joy - Hyper Focus album artwork

Regulars on the European festival circuit over the last few years will most likely be familiar with Birth Of Joy, who seem intent on staking a claim of being the hardest-gigging band around. They’ve also found time to make five studio albums, the latest of which finds them less reliant on the heavy, vaguely retro psych blues that made their reputation. Instead, Hyper Focus signals a shift towards the proggier end of the spectrum, the three-piece striking out into more nebulous territory. Join The Game is a riot of galloping prog metal, complete with a shredding solo from singer/guitarist Kevin Stunnenberg. By contrast, Forenoon gives in to their jazz-rooted tendencies, allowing room for organist Gertjan Gutman (who also doubles up on bass) and drummer Bob Hogenelst to develop a cooler tempo. There’s still the odd concession to vintage psych – most prominently on Riff Raff – but Birth Of Joy appear just as happy in the midst of a meandering jam like Sypdorkat as they do in the playful time signatures of Witches Hammer. And listen out for Poor Duffy, which sounds like an ominous coupling of The Doors and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard.

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.