Spiral Skies – Blues For a Dying Planet (2018) REVIEW

You might figure half of Scandinavian rock scene is populated with post-flower children hailing the residue of the heavy psychedelic rock of the early 70’s into eternity, at least based on the frequency and high competency of material floating around this last decade. Much of the trend puffs on a surface-level pipe, though, and resembles a caricature of an era rather than careful study or honest inspiration. With a barrage of beautiful voices skimming over well-worn retro resemblance few actually become ear-worming, memorable statements. Stockholm, Sweden based heavy psych’d gloom-rockers Spiral Skies initially provide more of a feeling than a spectacle as their almost ‘bar band’ looseness and frantic doom prophecies evoke just enough of an anxious oddity to compel deeper listening.

Though ‘Blues For a Dying Planet’ opens with a rousing NWOBHM-ish guitar lead and a thread of proto-metal persists here and there, much of the album focuses on bluesy, acid rock feeling not too far from the ‘Crown of Creation’ era of Jefferson Airplane but clearly updated to keep up with contemporaries such as MaidaVale and Psychedelic Witchcraft. “Dark Side of the Cross” is pretty explicit in it’s style and where the vocals of Frida Eurenius begin to shine as the main instrument. I’d first heard her voice as a guest on Vintersorg‘s ‘Naturbål’ though I think this style allows her slightly quivering performances to shine quite well within Spiral Skies‘ gloomy, typically foreboding guitar work. There are perhaps no ‘big riffs’ on the record, so much of it’s memorability lies in the lead guitar work and in Eurenius‘ vocals. Her vibrato and Swedish accent might make some of the lyrics difficult to connect with initially but it is ultimately an important part of Spiral Skies‘ sound.

Some of the lyrics feel a bit wordy, not in the sense of writing but diction, and become slightly ranting on “Wizard’s Ball” and “The Prisoner”. These moments are made up for with a great deal of variety in terms of mixing up guitar sounds and melodies between songs. I could live without “Shattered Hopes” on the tracklist in general, I don’t feel like it enhances the second half of the album and has that same sort of ranting quality to it that makes me anxious enough to skip on repeated listens. The strongest tracks of this debut album go a long way in keeping me engaged with it’s entirety. “Awakening”, “Dark Side of the Cross” and the brilliant “Labyrinth of the Mind” help to shake off some of the slightly souring moments that make it feel like a debut album. Even if I did want heavier guitar work here and there the entirety of ‘Blues For a Dying Planet’ was satisfactorily proto-metallic in nature and Eurenius‘ vocals are hauntingly beautiful in affect. Well worth spinning for it’s professional, immaculate performances and fittingly pre-apocalyptic musings.

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Artist Spiral Skies
Type Album
Released May 18, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on AOP Records’ Bandcamp! Follow Spiral Skies on Facebook
Genres

Begging for more blasphemy. 3.5/5.0

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