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Spiral: The Capital In Ruins

Concept albums are tricky things, with the skill of matching the lyrics to the music being a knack that many bands never quite capture. Spiral on the other hand are masters of the art, with The Capital In Ruins possibly being the best example across their quickly produced, but always satisfying seven albums. The story itself deserves to be turned into a book, with the main character (Rip) merging his love of machines, to his love of diseases, coming up with a miniscule, mechanical disease which he injects into himself. The results are painful, but after the long fight his body has with the disease, immortality is the end result. Wanting to share his creation/gift with others, Rip then weakens the dose to lessen the pain and injects everyone else on his small home world. All is well until the weakening of the dose begins to result in the body defences of those he injected beginning to defeat the disease, which then shuts the body down killing all but Rip. Instead of dying, the inventor of the disease machine sleeps for twenty years, waking to a decaying, empty world of his own creation....

It is a desolate tale and one that holds a huge amount of pain, solitude and suffering and little hope. Something which comes through in the ever slow paced music the pair of Chris Boat (vocals/bass/keyboards/guitar) and Aaron Frale (guitar) illustrate perfectly across the five lengthy tracks on The Capital In Ruins. Aided only by guest vocalists Denzel Thompson and Senda Shallow and guitarist Casey Mraz, the duo have a gift for delivering bleak soundscapes that still draw you in on a wave of believability, keeping you interested through repeated phrases and themes that somehow seem to shimmer and twist as they evolve. Yes, the end product is far from cheery stuff and under the wrong circumstances (a beach party for example!) the effect of Spiral and their music can be completely lost. However in solitude, through headphones, whether curled up in the dark at home, or sitting through an interminably long journey on a train or bus, the effect begins to truly seep into the deep dark crevices of the mind. Unnerving and soothing in equal measure.

The high pitched vocal courtesy of Senda brings a new aspect to Spiral, with "The Memories Speak" being amongst their best, most heart breaking songs - the vocal being the voice of Rip's wife, as her body gives in to the disease. Harrowing stuff, but handled superbly with claustrophobic drums adding heavy-aired weight to the music as the vocals try desperately to raise the spirits, ultimately losing out to the dense keyboards and ambient hums, guitar drones and melodies that announce Rip's isolation. In truth Spiral don't offer up much in the way of variation across this album and with the pair releasing seven albums (and nine singles!) across a four year period, there is no denying that from this point on (album number 4), all of Spiral's work sounds very closely connected. However there is also no denying that it is also completely convincing and of an amazingly high standard, especially given their prolific work rate.

Spiral are a band genuinely offering something different from the norm, something bleak, almost lost, but there is always hope and melody buried within the dense outpouring of emotion, leaving you feeling completely uplifted when it is all over. Neither are they ever likely to be called a quick fix. However if you were to start at either this band's most recent offering Mind Trip In A Minor, or indeed this release, The Capital In Ruins, you will be richly rewarded for your patience.

Spiral come highly recommended indeed.

Track Listing
1. Beyond The Edge Of Time
2. The Art Of Our Dwelling
3. The Capital In Ruins
4. The Memories Speak (Senda's Song)
5. Without Others

Added: December 13th 2012
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Spiral at BandCamp
Hits: 1716
Language: english

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