Downspirit: Point of Origin
The debut album from Downspirit really took me by surprise! Knowing absolutely nothing about any of the musicians' previous band experiences, I really didn't know what to expect when I received Point of Origin in the mail. When I put the album in the CD player for my first spin I was blown away! The unique combination of traditional heavy metal and blues music instantly intrigued me, and the catchy, yet intricate compositions kept me constantly coming back for more. Not to mention the fantastic musicianship, production, or even the beautifully designed Digipak artwork. Needless to say, Point of Origin will be very high on my 2010 top album list.
The music that Downspirit plays is a very unique combination of blues, traditional heavy metal, and even some metalcore tendencies. If you're a naysayer to extreme metal, you may be wondering where the metalcore influence appears. Steffen Lauth occasionally (let me repeat the word "occasionally") does metalcore/growl vocal-style to be used as a contrast between his two vocal styles, and it's mostly used as an effect. Most of the time I love when he does this - I think it adds even more variation into Downspirit's music. If you don't like growly vocals, you should give this album a shot anyway. It's infrequent, it (surprisingly) works well in the music, and Steffen is really an all-around fantastic singer. He actually masters many different vocal styles. As for the bulk of Downspirit's music, modern melodic traditional heavy metal is the name of the game. There's definitely a lot of blues influence in their sound as well - something that really makes them stand out in the crowded metal scene. This is mostly utilized by bluesy guitar riffing, harmonica solos, and a bluesy vocal style. Add in some prog and power metal influence and you definitely have a great and eclectic album!
Point of Origin consists of 11 main tracks and one bonus song. The bonus track isn't very interesting, and is just a fun little blues tune. I find myself skipping it every time, and it definitely fits the definition of a "throwaway". Of the 11 main songs, they're all spectacular. It's amazing to me that the band maintains a 50 minute run-time with such little filler (aside from the bonus track). My favorite songs here would be the proggy "Point of Origin", the rockin' "Life's A Bitch", the ballad "Hollow Words", and the highly memorable "Make My Day". However, putting together that list of favorites was quite the daunting task. I really had a tough time narrowing it down to 4 songs, which definitely indicates that this is a great album!
The musicians of Downspirit are fantastic. The playing is tight, there are plenty of soaring guitar solos, and the vocals are terrific. Being that Point of Origin's lineup consists of two guitarists, it's expected that this is a guitar-fronted album - and both Cedric Dupont and Axel Reissmann definitely deliver! Between the fantastic riffs, wonderful multi-layered guitar harmonies, and captivating solos, it's really hard for me to pick a favorite part about the guitar playing on Point of Origin. As mentioned previously, Steffen Lauth is a great vocalist. He sings in many different styles on this album, and I have to say that I enjoy all of them. Last, but certainly not least, the rhythm section is great in Downspirit. Sebastian Dunkel is a great drummer, delivering many impressive fills throughout the coarse of the album. Sven Rakowitz's bass playing drives almost every song on Point of Origin, and he does it with confidence and a rock-steady style. Needless to say, it's a joy listening to such professional musicians.
The production is great as well. It's polished and powerful, but has a type of rawness that's essential for this type of heavy metal. There couldn't have been a better sound for this album.
Point of Origin is a terrific debut album by Downspirit. Although there are one or two filler tracks on the album and a few small things could be improved, I have infinite respect for the musicians who made this album. Really, almost everything about Point of Origin is an ingredient for perfection. If you're into heavy metal, but aren't looking for average run-of-the-mill material, this is the album for you! 4 stars are well deserved.
1. Point of Origin Pt. 1
2. Point of Origin Pt. 2
3. Love Song
4. Life's a Bitch
6. Good Times
7. Hollow Words
8. Highway Run
10. Make my Day
11. The End
Added: September 14th 2010
Reviewer: Jeff B
Related Link: Band MySpace page
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|Downspirit: Point of Origin
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-09-14 17:36:20
Downspirit was formed in 2009 by one time Symphorce and Freedom Call guitarist Cedric Dupont, with the intention of mixing the blues with metal music. One year later we have Point Of Origin which is the band's debut release and one that is packed with highs and lows. Joining Dupont in Downspirit are singer Steffen Lauth, guitarist Axel "Aki" Reissmann, Sven Rakowitz on bass and Sebastian Dunkel on drums. Together they do make for a solid unit, where the hard hitting, yet melodic guitars come to the fore, whilst Lauth's hearty howl marks him out as an excellent singer.
The approach of adding a harder edge to a bluesy guitar style is nothing new. However instead of a Free or Thunder vibe, Downspirit are undoubtedly a fair bit tougher in their execution, with the likes of Monster Magnet, or even Megadeth being brought to mind with "Good Times" or "Life's A Bitch". Added to that however is the extremely bluesy roar of Lauth and the stylish blues infused guitar licks of Dupont. It is an interesting combination and one that to be fair does mean the band stand out a little from the crowd. It is just that it doesn't make for the most attention grabbing, or cohesive collection of songs. The aforementioned "Life's A Bitch" has big meaty riffs and a blazing solo, but the chorus sounds like something AOR'sters Crown Of Thorns would throw out and while I enjoy all of those separate elements, I'm not sure I need them all crammed together in one song. To add to the confusion, Lauth puts a metal-core growl on to some of the tracks, which to be fair he does with a great conviction, but it just is another unneeded flavour on an already over flowing sandwich. The idea of interlocking big guitar riffs to harmonica solos and aggressive, though mostly "clean vocals" is repeated through most of the songs, but the end results are a little confused and lacking in any real direction.
Undoubted though is the skill of the musicians involved on this album and when the remit is reined in slightly, the results are completely convincing, with the likes of "Arisen" which has a riff Disturbed would gladly borrow and full on vocals (which do verge into growling this time) work extremely well in this setting. Following that up with the atmospheric, moody refrain of "The End" is also an inspired move as it closes the disc in a very similar fashion to that of opening tracks "Point Of Origin Pt1" and "Point Of Origin Pt2", making the album feel a little more cohesive than it really is.
Good rather than great, there are some cracking moments on Point Of Origin, it is just a shame that they are surrounded by ideas that are forced rather than blended together.
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