Published on March 7th, 2021 | by Justin G.
Jason Bieler And The Baron Von Bielski Orchestra: Songs For The Apocalypse (Frontiers, 2021)
Jason Bieler has a new solo album out, and, um…it’s something. You can tell the former Saigon Kick guitarist/keyboardist has been paying attention to Devin Townsend’s career arc, because this is more or less a rock version of the Devin Townsend Project. Townsend actually guests on obe track, as does Bieler’s pal Jeff Scott Soto. Dubbed Jason Bieler And The Baron Von Bielski Orchestra (rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?), the album is titled Songs For The Apocalypse, and it’s as unpredictable as it is enjoyable.
Saigon Kick was never just your typical “hair band,” and Bieler is anything but typical on this ambitious project. Songs For The Apocalypse veers from theatrical melodic rock to progressive metal, with lush Beatles-esque vocal harmonies soaring over chugging metallic riffs and tranquil keyboard passages. In Bieler’s own words: “It should sound 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.” Kind of says it all, doesn’t it?
We’ve established that it’s weird, but is it any good? It’s actually pretty freaking terrific. Bieler gives us the full force of his talent and creativity here, and for all the atmosphere and progressive noodling, he never forgets that it all comes back to great songs. There are a few tracks here that need to be heard in the greater context of the album, but most of the songs can be enjoyed on their own or shuffled in a playlist with other interesting rock favorites.
Frontiers loves to hype their various studio projects and collaborations, but this is the kind of music they should be pushing to the forefront. There’s absolutely nothing formulaic about Songs For The Apocalypse, and it still checks off a lot of those boxes the typical Frontiers fan is looking for: great melodies, strong vocals, great musicianship and songs that stick in your head. We could use more of this kind of weird. So yeah, check this one out if you’re a Bieler/Saigon Kick fan already, or if you’re into interesting/progressive/ambitious music like Devin Townsend and Jono, or if you just want to hear something cool and creative and dare I say it…fun?
Summary: Weird and wonderful solo project