Spirits Of The Dead – Self Titled.

Thanks to James at Prescription PR for this one! Due to be released on 11/10 on Big Dipper Records, it's one for pre-order, or note in your diary time....

Spirits Of The Dead are a four piece band from Norway who specialise in – wait for it – retro metal. Not old school black metal, but an unashamed return to the Seventies when rock and prog reigned supreme. And they're very, very good at it indeed! What's most astonishing is that this is the band's début, as this is immensely stylish and assured.

Crack the shrink wrap, have a glance through the minimalist 8pp double gatefold inlay – white one side, black on reverse, to symbolise light and dark or two sides of a coin I wonder? - then listen on and enjoy.

“White Lady/Black Rave” gets the show on the road with an opening that sounds like a cross between The Doors and The White Stripes, until the off-kilter vocals make you think of Muse or perhaps The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, prior to an expansive riff that Led Zeppelin would have been proud of. Promising start then? You better believe it. And it gets better, and better as it progresses. There really isn't a wasted moment during the 37 minutes or so that this runs for, however the closing three tracks are all worthy of further consideration...

“Traveller In Time” has a subdued opening which doffs its cap, again, to Led Zep, before huge chords in the style of Wolfmother or Mastodon kick in. “Fields Of Gold” has a more direct opening and then repeats a theme to close, whilst the title track brings things to a conclusion in stoner fashion and contains a stunning prog oriented bridge.

All the songs ebb and flow with considerable grace and poise, so much so that you wonder if you've skipped a track or two when it ends – it really seems to be all over in a blur. The song writing is purposeful and the band demonstrate a clear understanding of dynamics. Considering the myriad of styles and influences they bring together this is no mean feat. If you're old enough to remember this first time round or if you're a fan of the modern retro movement, then this album is for you...Having praised the album for so long are there any negatives I hear you cry? Nothing that can't be easily rectified on album two. The production, in general, needs to be far bigger – this is one of the quietest CDs I've played recently – and the vocals specifically need a bit of tlc. But in the scheme of things I'm nit picking.

Spirits Of The Dead have recorded an absolute cracker. You've heard it all before, but it's done with such style and conviction that you just have to marvel at the end result. I'd place this in the top half dozen or so albums I've heard so far this year, and would recommend it unreservedly to fans of retro, stoner, prog, and classic rock.


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