Review Summary: How to revive rock and maintain your reputation in eight simple steps.
Only a few bands can talk about consistency with the same weight as Norwegian rock sages Spidergawd. The band led by ex-Cadillac Per Borten have managed to maintain an astonishing level of quality with every yearly release, with the reasonable exception of 2018, a period where the band was preoccupied with a heavy touring schedule.
Since their inception in 2014, Spidergawd have put out a new album every first month of the new year, a tradition that have been recovered in this 2019 with the release of their fifth work for Crispin Glover records, home of bands like Soup, Black Moon Circle and Sugarfoot. The starkly titled V
features once again the art of French artist Emile Morel, commonly known by his love for phantasmagorical, almost three-dimensional images of hybrid creatures that have become the fauna that populate the band’s covers since the beginning. In combination with Spidergawd's recipe of modernized classic rock, the bundle oozes mythological rock vibes throughout its eight generously stuffed tracks.
It's been also three years since founder member and Motorpsycho's mastermind Bent Sather left bass duties to Orango's Hallvard Gaardlos who, along with remaining Motorpsycho representative, drum-kit punisher Kenneth Kapstad, have run the engine of Spidergawd like a loose locomotive, a rampage additionally fueled by the baritone sax of Rolf Martin Snustad and the mighty sound of Borten's guitar.
But enough of the history lesson. A first contact with V
quickly shows that Spidergawd is a band in excellent shape and with a very clear identity. They do drink from different taps: from the Thin Lizzy feel of highlight "Ritual Supernatural" or the NWOBHM callbacks of closer "Do I Need a Doctor..."", the Norwegians excel in recreating a glorious era without becoming a shoddy caricature of the bands that made it great. Borten is a hell of a vocalist; not only he has an impressive range, but he also has the gut needed for the job. His delivery in songs like the dizzying "Whirlwind Rodeo" or the second half of "Green Eyes" is, honestly, jaw dropping.
The long touring seasons have made Spidergawd an incredibly compact band too. V
doesn't disguise anything behind fancy effects, on the contrary, it shows the quartet from Trondheim doing their thing like they would do it in your living room. The extra spice comes from Rolf Martin's superb work on the sax, never too prominent and always fulfilling, as he amply shows in the opening section of "All and Everything", or even taking the spotlight with a killer solo in "Avatar". There are other times where its presence is just felt, giving a song like “Twentyfourseven” a solid base for the rest of the combo to shine.
Spidergawd's fifth entry is not a revolution for the genre and it doesn't need to be one. V
is just the proof that constant work pays off, and the audible testimony that it is possible to revive the sound of legends of old without travestying into a laughable pantomime. Hats off to the Norwegians.