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Spotlights: Seismic

There aren't too many husband and wife teams in the world of metal, so hat's off to Sarah and Mario Quintero as they deliver their second full length release, and third in total under the Spotlights gaze. Growth seems key here, the duo's first offering, Tidals, garnering impressed glances, but the size of the shift between then and now may just about live up to this latest album's name, Seismic. Or it would if the ability to know when enough is enough had been deployed…

Now I may have already spoiled the twist of the Seismic tail, but what comes before is the reason to look on in shock, the album opening with blasts genuinely taking you unaware as they caress and hammer-smash in equal proportions. Think ISIS (well Aaron Harris did produce this album), think Deftones, think Melvins, think My Bloody Valentine, but most importantly, think Spotlights. For while all those bands referenced are used as inspiration, none are employed as a crutch. With an opening quartet of tracks that cover an immense amount of ground, the deep, grating guitars bite and swirl, just as they scream and swoop. Yet it's the manner in which the churning grooves are driven home via a hugely captivating mix of drums, synth and bass that sets the stall out so clearly and cleverly.

Continuing the crafty combining, occasional though they are, the vocals are just deep enough in the mix to be clearly heard, yet never at the forefront – the pair sharing duties, although in truth, who's singing what? I'm not sure. In ways it merely means that voice is another instrument on the album and not something to fixate on. The best example being the sliding voices of "Listen To Breathe" as a riff so lethal it's already been banned on three continents, sets the scene for droning but melodic sounds that all add to the effect. The crashing cymbals and booming beats don't exactly hurt either.

"Seismic" itself adds a little more background melody, again adding nuances in sparse fingertipfuls rather that ladling it on, but when staccato guitars are the order of the day, the mind swirling is doubled. With "The Size Of The Planet" crawling along, yet attacking at lightning speed and "Ghost Of A Glowing" a stop-start scythe of glistening intent, the question has to be why do Spotlights let this triumphant beginning slip away? From there "Under The Earth" and "What Is This? Where Are We?" thunder along nicely, without ever really hitting home, while "A Southern Death" and "The Opening" never really offer anything that hasn't already been said. On its own that would still have made a mighty fine sum of parts – the bad still pretty good, the good bloody excellent. So why add three alt-rock-ambient drone pieces on the end and make them collectively over 23 minutes long??? As the earlier song suggests, 'What is this? Where are we?'

Still, calling an album that is one third confusing, one third good and one third bloody fantastic, anything other than a joyous experience, would be wrong. It's just a shame that the journey is 20 minutes too long and that it starts at the top of the quality steps and slowly spirals down. The question is, does the early realised potential do enough to still make this a must hear album? I'd suggest it probably does, it's just a shame that a sure thing was allowed to tumble into middle of the pack nearly but not quite...

Track Listing
1. Seismic
2. Learn to Breathe
3. The Size of the Planet
4. Ghost of a Glowing Forest
5. Under the Earth
6. A Southern Death
7. The Opening
8. What Is This? Where Are We?
9. Hollow Bones
10. Hang Us All
11. The Hope of a Storm

Added: December 3rd 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Spotlights at bandcamp
Hits: 984
Language: english

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