Housed in one of the most dynamite packaging jobs I’ve seen to date (and definitely the best of the last 365), this gatefold of faux-velvet with shining gold and blood red debossing includes an illustrated version of the mythical one Medusa herself, demonic claws and ye olde sabbatic goat on the cover, while the gate is pentagram-enhanced with various vintage group visages intermingled into the blank space inside and surrounding it. But it’s not all surface joys, First Step Beyond is a space-prog opus that nips at the heels of outsiders like Hawkwind and the more heavy, moody, groove-oriented practitioners of progressive, such as Keith Relf’s post-Yardbirds outfit Armageddon.
Recorded in their hometown of Chicago by the group in 1975 and laying unreleased till now, the album is a truly singular work with no regional reference points I can muster from the time period, displaying the facility to stretch without moving into meandering monotony. There’s a pervading doom over the platter, with detours into some staying-just-long-enough musicianly breakdowns, jazz-flecked guitar leads mingling in the matter without turning to self-indulgent sub-genre exercise, and shifting moods suitable to a well-sequenced set. Standouts include the nine minutes of instrumental pulsing space metal groove “Transient Amplitude”, the internal rumblings of a cold heart warming in the ballad “Temptress”, and personal fave “Black Wizard” pushing a dark occult agenda without lapsing into theatric parody. Sure to find fans in early heavy progressive fiends, doom metal heads, the outer-lying grounds of the ‘70s American underground and those open to adventures in sound.
[Exhumed/curated by pal & collector Daniel Schlosser.]
Check oput Medusa's "Black Wizard" right here, and pick up the LP while you still can, as it's sold out from the source.