Review Summary: Allie Foster, whaaaa???
With the recent allegations of frontman Howard Jones getting caught up in twitter debacles, I only thought it to be appropriate to pay tribute to one of my personal favorite albums and extreme metal ensembles that is “Spirals.” Certainly, this is probably an ode to one of several top shelf acts found on the Ferret roster, and a tribute to the fact that we will probably never get another BHBS release in this or the following decade. It’s a shame that it took something as petty as this social dilemma to get me to pull this review together, seeing as how I always considered the album to be a cornerstone in destructive collaborations between hardcore heavyweights.
The line up on this release is worthy to mention, seeing as how Red Tide (and more recently KSE) drummer Justin Foley lays down the law with his thundering blasts and polyrhythmic combinations. Certainly, this album finds Foley in less contemporary battle grounds, as his approach to the skins is not as cut and dry as it is on his more recent releases. This certainly adds a certain zing to his introduction of the album, as well as the groove oriented “Greetings From The Gallows” that absolutely dismantles any deathcore acts attempt to simplify a doom infested beat. The production on the snare and bass drum are exceptional, and it’s safe to say that this is one of the more digestible albums produced by Zeuss that doesn’t make the listener want to throw the disc out of the window due to the autotune being applied to each individual tom.
The guitars on “Spirals” are simply gut rotting vibrations that continuously maneuver on the lower half of the fret board and rely heavily on the deep end G tuning that is present throughout the majority of the disc. There is no mathematic noodling, senseless dweedle dweedle’s, melody or organized formations of riffs and structure. Instead, what is present is a combination of tweeks and nudges that bring back to mind Meshuggah’s “Chaosphere” era. “The House of Fists” presents a good example of the jargon that makes this album such a treat, and the chemistry between all the members of the group solidifies to a concrete mass on the final bridge of this 1:11 minute gem.
As for Howard, it’s a shame that he has spent so much time with his recent project and straying from the path that has brought him so much success. This album finds him in different character, as the melodies and choruses that are found on the KSE releases are evident on about a track and a half (“Uatu,” and the chaotic conclusion that is “Cortisone”) and even here they lack direction, steam or any relevance to the rest of the album as a whole. Howard’s ability to properly place syllables and proper pronunciations of beautifully constructed verbiage and dialect are a strong affirmation of his role as a frontman. The bridge in “Beginners Luck” has one of my favorite contributions to his poetic catalogue (that’s right); “reaching, choking, gasping, for unbreathable air.” In this particular part of the track, Jones depicts a human being left for dead, being buried alive and attempting to pull through the ground and out of the casket into the steaming Earth to gain revenge. For what, you ask? Why, love of course! Deception is the key theme of this entire album, and it seems as if the heartbroken Howard no longer needs the dwelling that has been dominating the BHBS catalogue since their debut album was released late in 1999.
Make a point to reach back for this album and let it play through. Even if you’ve been rocking out “Plastic Beach” since it leaked a few weeks ago this should still feel like a solid album for a chemically bound group that leaves the listener recognizing that there is something unique about this specific release. Don’t go hopping back to Novella-era BHBS expecting the same type of output, as the performance there is rather sloppy and the production is nowhere near as crisp as what’s found here. On a side note, KSE has found a comfortable niche in a saturated scene and is not able to make anywhere near as big of an impact as BHBS managed to in their short, yet powerful career.