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Spiral - 2011 - "The Capital in Ruins"

(72:31, ‘Spiral’)



1.  Beyond the Edge of Time 10:54
2.  The Art of Our Dwellings 5:52
3.  The Capital in Ruins 22:58
4.  The Memories Speak 11:54
5.  Without Others 20:53


Chris Boat – keyboards; bass, guitar; vocals
Aaron Frale – guitar; vocals; programming
Casey Mraz – lead guitar
Denzel Thompson – voices
Senda Shallow – voices

Prolusion. “The Capital in Ruins” is the third release by the American project SPIRAL, which only features two members, Chris Boat (keyboards, bass, rhythm guitar and vocals) and Aaron Frale (rhythm guitar, vocals and programming). I have never heard of them before.

Analysis. To give the music a sense of richness, the duo has brought in three guests, who add extra guitar and vocals which, however, doesn’t help, since the recording was a semi-amateurish affair initially, plus the invited musicians appear to be as ‘skilled’ as the main ones. Lyrically this is an apocalyptical tale of how “a scientist named Rip kills the entire planet with a nano-machine plague”, the band re-imagining “Rip Van Wincle”, a short story by Washington Irving, which has nothing to do with that topic and is about a time journey, if briefly. To my mind, the lyrics are only dressed up as a sci-fi narrative, while to a greater degree they reflect the decadent worldview of those of our contemporaries who call themselves Goths. As to the music, it definitely applies to the gothic rock/metal crowd, depressive and dark, although accompanied by the trance-like beats of a drum machine, an outdated one, with an awful sound, which in itself might scare away most of the disc’s potential listeners. Add here that, while the recording is very long (72:31), it only consists of five tracks. My patience began to run out already during the first of those, Beyond the Edge of Time, which ‘stands out’ for its endlessly repeated somber chords/pseudo riffs, of which the one that comes along with the lyrical line “Want to live forever?” is especially annoying. The men’s guitar playing provides the bulk of the album’s sonic fabric, though their approach reveals an interest mainly in simplistic formations, often referring to nu metal, within the framework of which it is a bad form if a song contains more soloing lines than zero-to-one. So it’s beyond me why these axemen have invited one more six-stringer – he solos rarely and always naively, like a beginner. None of the musicians are good vocalists either, but the one who sings on the disc opener (as well as on a few more occasions) is, hmm, an acquired taste: his almost intelligible gibberish leaves me scratching my head anywhere where his voice is, for some uncertain reason, intentionally muted and distorted. While changing in style or rather in structural density, normally alternating gothic metal-evoking moves with those referring to so-called Alternative, the music sounds much the same throughout the recording, only occasionally assuming a different appearance, most notably in the beginning of The Art of Our Dwellings, where the organ (introduced for the first and the last time) is in tone reminiscent of Van Der Graaf Generator / Hugh Banton’s one, or in the finale of the title track, which is full of doom-ish intonations, bringing to mind early My Dying Bride. Most of the time, however, it is locked into a style of delivery which at best suggests the trio configuration of guitar, vocals and synthesizer (there’s no need to consider the drum machine, is it?), especially on the above Beyond the Edge of Time and Without Others which, while lasting for over 20 minutes, is the most monotonous track here, straightforward Alternative Rock in style, with only occasional Gothic overtones and no heavy riffing at all. Finally, The Memories Speak (11:54) is a gothic rock ballad, dreary in all senses.

Conclusion. Enough said. I would title the album “The Music in Ruins”.

VM=Vitaly Menshikov: June 20, 2012
The Rating Room

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