Jason Bieler is prepared to release his long-awaited new solo album, “Songs For The Apocalypse” on January 22nd under the moniker JASON BIELER AND THE BARON VON BIELSKI ORCHESTRA. The guest list for the album reads like a who’s who of the rock, metal, and pop scene both old and new, but it’s really just a crazy cast of characters that Bieler is proud to call his friends. Sprinkled throughout the record you’ll hear contributions from Todd LaTorre (Queensryche), Dave Ellefson (Megadeth), Devin Townsend, Pat Badger (Extreme), Butch Walker (ex-Marvelous 3), Bumblefoot (Sons of Apollo), Clint Lowery (Sevendust), Benji Webbe (Skindred), Kyle Sanders (Hellyeah) and more, but the Bielski Orchestra remains the focus throughout and it comes together beautifully.
Bieler has described the record as sounding something like if NEUROSIS got stuck in a blizzard at a Wawa with SUPERTRAMP, then JELLYFISH showed up and they all decided to do Barry Manilow covers in the style of MESHUGGAH, but in waltz time with slight country underpinnings…yet accessible for the masses. I’ve been waiting for this one to show up in my inbox since it was first announced over the Summer, and I’ve listened to it start to finish several times over. This one has something for every one delivered in the signature quirky and unorthodox way that only the Baron can do. While listening at full volume during Tier 3 lockdown here in London, I made some notes on each of the songs. Let’s dive in, shall we?
“Never Ending Circle” – An ethereal, atmospheric, almost apocalyptic intro to the album sets the stage for the fucking massive riff that about to rip your head off.
“Apology” – And we’re off! This is one of the strongest songs on the album, and with one listen, it’s easy to determine why they chose this as the first single. But this album is deep, so put on your seatbelt.
“Bring Out Your Dead” – The second single which was just released today. Another juggernaut of a riff is probably the closest thing you’ll see to anything Saigon Kick related.
“Annalise” – This is a weird one for sure. Maybe the Baron’s been listening to some Radiohead or Thom Yorke solo stuff?
“Stones Will Fly” – Another banger coming in at the midpoint of the record. Reminds me of a bit of Owl Stretching. Pat Badger and the brilliant Butch Walker give this one a pop-rock edge that works really well. The chorus really carries this one with a muddled but massive hook.
“Down in a Hole” – Beiler’s always been known to float between metal and progressive, and this one is a welcome surprise on the record. I hate to keep bringing up SK, but it’s impossible not to hear elements from the tribal feel of the Lizard in this one.
“Anthem for the Losers” – This is classic solo Bieler greatness at its finest. Even casual fans will be all over this one. Super catchy, gorgeous harmonies, if there’s a hit on this record, this could be it. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear this one on a movie soundtrack over the Summer.
“Horror Wobbles The Hippo” – Another strange but necessary interlude of a track where Bieler shows us that he can still shred with the best of them. Set against an apocalyptic jazz-infused backdrop, it’s a worthy instrumental.
“Beyond Hope” – Skindred’s Benji Webbe lends his signature vocal style in a back and forth with Bieler. This one could easily have been on the SK classic Devil in the Details. Webbe’s brilliant vocals not only add to the heaviness but offset Bieler’s lush chorus. It’s a bit of a two-ring circus of chaos, but it works. Add in Megadeth’s David Ellefson and guitar virtuoso Bumblefoot, and it’s another contender for the top track and another personal favorite on the record.
“Crab Claw Dan” – SK was always known to deliver that one song on the record that seemingly came out of left field; this is that one. If you can imagine the Beach Boys collaborating with Saigon Kick during the Pet Sounds era, this is probably what it would sound like. The chorus alone will take you to another place, but it’s worth staying for the whole song.
“Born of the Sun” – And back into the massive riffs…… Hellyeah’s Kyle Sanders’ (yeah, the brother of Mastadon’s Troy Sanders) incredible bass riff carries this song with a King’s X style groove into an offbeat frenzy. A bit of a slow burn, but you’ll be rewarded for sticking with it.
“Baby Driver” – Short experimental haunting drum and bass piece that’s a bit of a pallet cleanser for what’s to come.
“Alone in the World” – Jeff Scott Soto lends a hand to this riff-heavy anthem that has a bit of a Devin Townsend vibe to it, even more than the song Devin actually guests on. One of the heavier numbers on the record.
“Very Fine People” – This reminds me of Jason’s solo material shortly after the demise of Saigon Kick. It’s a beautiful ballad that could have easily been on one of the final SK records or maybe even Water. In my opinion, this is what Bieler does best. Songs that offer a bit of hope and inspiration and are delivered in exquisite over the top Beatlesque fashion. A proper close to a tour de force of a debut from The Baron Von Bielski Orchestra.
“FKSWYSO” – A quick outro which seems to be a continuation from the intro of the record but with a touch of Billy Joel style piano over the noisy crowds of conversation. This one closes as mysteriously as it opens and I’m not quite sure what that means or what that extra-long acronym stands for either.
So there you have it. It’s a bloody brilliant fucking record. I’ve just pre-ordered the vinyl and can’t wait to throw that on for a listen when it arrives next month. In the meantime, enjoy the two singles and get ready for an insane ride when the rest of the album comes alive.