ALBUM: Spires – Spiral Of Ascension
November 1st, 2010
With a name like Spires, you’d be forgiven if you were to think they were an indie band or played any other genre of music that is harmless, fun or could even be classed as happy. The name isn’t the most technical, and doesn’t give you any sort of insight or hint into what the music itself is like until you actually start to play it. As soon as the opening chords of the first track ‘Equilibrium’ reach your ears, you know that this is a band whose name belies their sound. Its intro had me hooked; the Opeth/Dream Theater/Mastodon sound left me listening eagerly for more; and when vocalist Paul Sadler‘s eerie, melodic, dogmatic voice came in, it was obvious this is a band who have stepped away from the ridiculous element of ‘fashionable’ metal bands these days, which is naming themselves the most stupidly sounding name they can think of.
Let’s take Annotations Of An Autopsy for example; from their name you can imagine they’re going to sound as heavy as they possibly can. Original? That’s for you to decide, but with Spires, the band have got such a thorough, heavy, downright metal sound that they don’t feel the need to get attention by naming themselves a hideously clichéd modern metal band name, instead they let the music itself gather the attention. And it does make you think, what good does a name do, anyway, if your music is good enough?
Even though this is an extremely solid album, the tracks that stand out are ‘The Infinite Descent’, ‘Broken Hourglass’ and ‘Martyr’. ‘The Infinite Descent’ is a whirlpool of technicality, beauty and bleakness that is a prime example of Spires full-bodied sound. It starts off gently, lulling the listener in but then it breaks into heavy, fast-paced metal that sounds like Opeth, but with a more modern and even more unconventional take on progressive metal. This track is one that shows Spires to be a band well on top of their game, and its a flawless, imaginative track that keeps you listening all the way through.
‘Broken Hourglass’ is a winding, epic track that takes the listener from the beautiful to the ugly with a strum of the guitar. One moment, you’re listening to a slow-paced section akin to Isis; the next, it all melts down and forms a song structured by pinches, feedback and the first you hear of Sadler‘s voice here is him declaring “people live / people die / it washes over me”, and this adds to the anger that is obvious in all 13:34 minutes of this track.
‘Martyr’ starts off in a bluesy, almost jazz way but then the pitch is lowered and the same riff sounds that much more like an uncompromising, sinister death metal sound that Spires capture at times. Sadler‘s voice is perhaps at its most effective here, in its bleakness, and when he does go to the depths of the death metal growls and screams that pop up every now and then, he shows that he’s a first-class metal vocalist and one that fits the band’s sound very well.
This is a really impressive album that will be a favourite with fans of progressive metal in years to come. On the basis of this, it’s a shock that the record labels are ignoring such an exciting, talented band with so much to offer and with such a tight grip on their sound. Hopefully this won’t be the case for much longer.
Written by Rhys Milsom