Spiridion - A Moment Of Clarity
Owain Paciuszko 24/08/2010
Newport based alternative metal act Spiridon have had the luxury of their own recording studio and have spent eight months working on this, their debut album, with the intent of making 'a record that truly reflects the sound they have worked so hard to achieve.'
Sadly, for a man on the outskirts of alt-metal appreciation, it sounds a lot like many other contemporary offerings, most disappointing is the generally American sound to the performance, especially Ross Cocker's lead vocal. Sure, lead track Thirty Eight and Gone features nice moments here and there, Kevin Llewellin and James Davies guitars throw up some interesting noodlings and the bass and drums grumble and crash with suitable verve. But it's the first track, it's the longest track, and it feels it.
Becoming Nothing doesn't fare much better, wallowing in a forgettable maelstrom of sound. Fortunately things improve with From Within, which begins atmospherically, Cocker's vocals begin with a whisper before drifting into guttural-howls. Once it hits it's most anguished stride it lumbers along without much deviation, it should take some lessons from Pedestal which begins with jangly guitars and a pleasing off-beat drum-line, a breathy Cocker whispering; 'I can't take this shit you throw at me.'
The title track is preceded by the spooky ambient instrumental A Structure to Form, its swooping ethereal sonics drifting into the following torrent of noise, which - for the most part - is a more restrained affair than other tracks. The transition from A Moment of Clarity to Fallback is almost invisible, and it doesn't seem to be by design, with each track sounding remarkably close. Meanwhile Inflicted gets off to a lively start before slumping into a dreary, lazy verse and remaining there for the rest of its duration. Reverse instrumentation leads the way into Pareidolia, which is a term for seeing significance in a random image or sound, such as the face of Jesus in your burnt toast. Unfortunately looking up the track's title in a dictionary is probably about as interesting as it gets, so I have that to thank the band for.
Penultimate track Perish picks up the pace a little bit, tinny guitars rattling like metal wires in a strong breeze, but it's just more of the same and just blurs into white noise. Closer Smoke and Mirrors opens with interesting stop-start instrumentation before turning into a metal-ballad where, after the line 'Blow away the sea', Cocker manages to say the word 'Now' and sound exactly like a crashing wave. Beyond that there's little else going on in its climatic five and a half minutes that pulls this album up out of its trench.
Sometimes I have to wonder if I'm the wrong person to review a record, and maybe my lack of 'metal knowledge' means my opinion isn't quite steeped in enough genre to wisdom to really provide a good critique, but, then I have to wonder; surely my naiveté means that I should be more easily impressed by a band as even old tricks should, theoretically, seem new to me. If you are a metal fan perhaps you should give Spiridion a listen, this is a solidly produced debut album, but to me it lacks innovation and invention. Spiridion are lucky enough to have access to their own studio and it's somewhat sad to see that kind of freedom funnelled into an album that feels so familiar even to untrained metal ears.