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Spiral: Our Final Days On Bellicus Prime

The second album of a trilogy which will have a book of short stories published to run alongside them based on their songs, Our Final Days On Bellicus Prime finds the Spiral output continue its amazing regularity, this being the band's eighth full length release (there are countless singles as well) since 2010! Most bands in those circumstances would begin to wilt under the weight of their own productivity, and most would be better served slowing down and condensing their best output into fewer releases. So far it is an affliction that Spiral have skilfully avoided and so it would appear it is set to continue.

The band themselves, while often joined by guests, has basically throughout their time together been the pairing of Aaron Frale (guitars/vocals) and Chris Boat (vocals/bass/keyboards/guitar). However a quick squint at their Bandcamp page reveals both Chris Walker and Bill Hatfield as, now, full members of the band, with both also adding rhythm and lead guitar. The change actually is apparent, with all of the previous Spiral releases, while evolving, growing and maturing, always dwelling in dark, dense, deep territory; Progressive Doom being a not quite accurate, but apt description. Our Final Days On Bellicus Prime however reveals a strange thing. Melody. It isn't as though Spiral have never possessed it before, but previously it was a toy to be taken out of the cupboard sparingly, cherished and then placed safely back in its hidey-hole for another day. Here it is suddenly a main player, a ray of light that pierces and lasts, if not for the whole album, but minutes at a time. Quite shocking actually. Pre-album single "Photographs" is the strongest indicator; a springing guitar line playing under trademark wailingly screamed vocals that as ever paint desolate pictures that make the stark album cover-art feel almost playful. A full bodied, almost Metallic riff then pours forth, before quite beautiful violin demands another about face, but all do so melodically. For most bands it wouldn't be a shock. But Spiral??

However it isn't as though the band have deserted their mainstay sound, "The Ballad Of Bellicus Prime", which begins a tale of...

"two species who face extinction, one in the unfathomable depths of space, the other comfortable on its own world. A man and his daughter speed through space trying to outrun a missile, the deciding factor, which has more gas? A soldier is sent to a desolate prison planet to battle a beast with a very unique hunting style, it hunts through the multi-verse, killing not just on the planet, but on every possibility of the planet..."

…through an unremitting mix of Spartan meanders and howling crawls. Unusually this isn't a concept piece as such (a first for Spiral), rather an album with a theme, yet as ever the songs feel intrinsically linked and reliant on each other to build a greater whole than their individual parts. The album title track again finds a levity in mood, by Spiral standards being almost breezy, although we're hardly talking laugh a minute stuff here (thankfully); a spacey theme evolved into a another tortured vocal, before the short "Time Beast" fires out a searing guitar solo over simple beats and "One Way Trip To Solasoma" (the album's second epic) invents Space Doom via harmony vocals, fuzzed guitars and unsettling keyboards.

Spiral never feel like they're treading water however Our Final Days On Bellicus Prime doesn't quite have the insistent intensity readily associated with this outfit and in ways hits with less initial force as a result. Time may well reveal an even greater depth (I suspect it will) and still there's no denying the craft behind any of the five songs offered. Another album is already (amazingly) in the works and of course we have the book to look forward to. Who knows where Spiral will head next? It will be fascinating to find out...

Track Listing
1. The Ballad Of Bellicus Prime
2. Photographs
3. Our Final Days On Bellicus Prime
4. Time Beast
5. One Way Trip To Solasoma

Added: May 24th 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Spiral on BandCamp
Hits: 2133
Language: english

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