JAM Magazine CD Review

September , 2013
Review by Lisa Sullivan

Heyoka

"The Spirit of Revelation"

ShroomAngel Records

From the opening notes you know this album is going to be unlike anything you've heard before. The record starts out almost mournfully with Thunderdreamer, soft flute underlying lyrics that decry the fate of the Native Americans. But then, suddenly, the song turns into an all out rock jam reminiscent of Styx with heavy synthesizers and soaring vocal melodies. Just as is the case with the first song, this is true of the entire album; the musical styles are all over the place and completely unpredictable. This creates a highly unique texture that makes this project a true joy to behold.

As with other major bands that came onto the scene in the mid-70s, the sounds of Heyoka are much bigger than the five members. This is arena rock at its best, shredding guitars, driving bass and dumbeats, and intricate interwoven layers of keyboards and flute. Not to mention the amazing vocal range of Michael Grothues, who, sadly, passed in 2012. His range is amazing, carrying many songs in traditional rocker formula and then soaring to heights that only could be reached by the likes of Geddy Lee or Rik Emmett. The other players are equally talented with Gerardo Ramirez on drums and keyboards, Dito Garcia and David Alcocer II on guitars, and Pat Hood on bass. Together they form a true powerhouse.

This is progressive rock at its best. If comparisons must be made, the first that comes to mind is Heart because of the flute which is so heavily featured in many of the tunes. Also brought to mind are Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Rush, Kansas, Triumph and Styx who all created amazing multi-faceted narratives interwoven with thoughtful lyrics and brilliant instrumentation. While I do not know much about the history of this band, I could easily envision them sharing the stage with any of the aforementioned bands and drawing in crowds as they spun their magic.

Highlights include Thunderdreamer, Wooden Birds, and Metamorphosis. The Trilogy, which takes up the entire third album side, is brilliant. The scenes slowly unfold (Restrictions, Passage and Revelations); a dramatic instrumental intro leads to a powerful mournfully rocking closing and crosses a lot of varied musical ground in between. The parting shot on the album, Disco Sux, is almost comical as the band shares their disdain for a style of music that keeps trying to pop its head into this particular tune. Stylishly crafted, it show the band is not only incredibly talented but also has a sense of humor.

Finally, I have to give props to the artist Guy Fountain, who created a beautiful cover prominently featuring a Native American face landscaped in desert mountains and musical instruments as part of the scenery. Love the flying armadillos! This really cool double vinyl set also features lots of archived pictures of the band that are fun to look at. And, did I mention the purple vinyl? This is a real find for any collector of 70s arena rock!