Prog Deathish Thursday: Spires

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This week we’ve got some deathy prog metal from Spires and some proggy death metal from Moss Upon the Skull.

News:

  • Kerrang has a stream of the new Gorod album, and in case you missed TDT last week, it’s fucking awesome. Get on this bad boy as soon as you can, and grab a copy through Overpowered Records when it hits tomorrow.
  • Blade of Horus have a new song up, and being wholly unfamiliar with them, I was expecting terrible deathcore. Instead, I got some pretty legit brutal tech death. Look for Obliteration on December 15th.
  • In a very unfortunate turn of events, Decrepit Birth had to drop entirely from the Bloodletting North America tour. Their vocalist broke his femur stage diving a couple nights ago, and while the surgery was successful, he’s unable to continue. The rest of the bands are continuing, and there are plenty of dates coming up. Find them at the link above.

Our band for today was recently brought to my attention by Toilet friend Andy Synn, who recommended it as a sort of tech-adjacent band that you all would likely enjoy. And I have to agree; Manchester’s Spires aren’t by any means tech death, but their music is complex enough for tech heads to get into. I enjoyed their previous album quite a bit and was totally unaware that this was out until a couple days ago, so we’re basically exploring this one together. It’s almost like having friends!

A big part of Spires’ appeal is how well they mesh heart and mind in their music, and A Parting Gift certainly doesn’t disappoint on either front. The band’s sound on their 2014 album, The Whisperer, felt like an offshoot of the Opeth tree of prog death. This newest one retains some of that feeling, but dials back the death metal parts a bit in favor of soaring vocals and pretty chords, occasionally dabbling in the sludge and post-metal toolbox. The balance they strike between these individual components and how well they incorporate them into every song are what make this so captivating.

And boy, do they need to be captivating; with over an hour of music and only six songs set at a relatively slow pace, this is the sort of thing that threatens to drag on until the sun explodes. Despite its intimidating length, the album is very tight; nothing ever struck me as unnecessary or particularly self-indulgent. The flow of big bending riffs and hazy chords, deep growls and heartfelt singing, keeps the moment-to-moment pacing alive even as songs stretch upwards of the ten minute mark.

The production and musicianship present here help as well. The guitarists can shred with the best of them, and the band’s strong sense of counterpoint and harmony weaves each instrument together into a gorgeous and complex tapestry of sound. Powerful vocals are a huge boon; the vocalist sings in a fairly high register and goes low when he growls, both of which (and especially when used in tandem) are a recipe for disaster when not performed well. Thankfully, such is not the case here, as the growls have some heft and the sung parts are emotive and confident. Everything sounds great, too; each instrument is clear and has a lot of presence, the rhythm tone is thick, the leads fluid, and the acoustic guitars lush and full.

Hopefully that wasn’t too out of the realm of tech death for this column, but the music is pretty complex, and there are elements of death metal, so… close enough? In any case the new Spires album rules, and I think a lot of you non-tech people will be able to get into this one as well. Be sure to give the band a follow on Facebook, and nab yourself a copy of A Parting Gift over on Bandcamp.


Is your band tech as heck? Got a juicy piece of news or an upcoming release to watch? Send it my way at techdeathtovh@gmail.com and I’ll check it out. I might even talk about it.

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