It’s been 3 years, but finally following the success of their debut EP “A Queendom To Come”, Swedish Retro-rockers Spiral Skies present their first full-length album. It was certainly well worth the wait as it is a veritable cornucopia of psychedelia, blues, hard rock and metal, Spiral Skies have audibly transcended time to bring their unique sound to a modern audience.
Yes, there is a strong element of Jefferson Airplane (mainly their early catalogue), and the comparison affirms itself with both bands having a talented versatile female vocalist singing over quirky, unorthodox arrangements. On the flip side, modern links will also therefor be made with Jex Thoth, Blood Ceremony, Avatarium etc – which there are aspects of, but Spiral Skies are in the main a more progressive psyche-type musical unit, that take the obvious late 60’s/early 70’s influence, nudge in a bit of NWOBHM, a hint of Underground Zero’s mindset and go right through to having elements of fellow Swedes Horisont and Witchcraft.
Their arrangements are indeed quirky – no verse-bridge-chorus structures for Spiral Skies, which certainly keeps the listener more than interested – you really don’t know what the band will throw in next! The music is mainly 2 guitars/bass/drums (with occasional organ flourishes) adorned with the fabulous vocals of Frida Eurenius (her name was very familiar and I didn’t think it was just from her album with symphonic power metallers Lapis Lazuli – then I realized it was from her excellent guest vocal slot on Vintersorg’s ‘Rymdens brinnande öar’ – which all goes to further underline her versatility!). Yes there’s a tone and delivery of Grace Slick at times, but her range and ability also has me thinking (from the Metal fraternity) of Sandra Schleret (Siegfried, ex-Dreams Of Sanity, ex-Elis etc) right through to the occasional sprinkling of Kate Bush style theatrics.
The songs vary nicely in tempo and mood, leaning towards the unexpected when possible, mixing in some great twin and lead guitar moments, but generally the main focus tends to come back to the vocals (though isn’t it the sign of great musicians and songwriters to be able to showcase a great vocalist?). Frida not only makes many of the “verse” vocal lines into something memorable, but a few of the songs like ‘The Awakening’ and the suspiciously titled ‘The Wizards Ball’ (stop sniggering at the back…) have quite fabulous choruses, showing the bands ability to hook you in immediately and allowing the rest of the album to gradually work it’s way in on the back of them.
The balance of this album is perfect – musically, vocally and inspirationally. It’s an album that just demands to be revisited many times, and each time something new seems to be waiting to be discovered. There’s plenty of dynamic guitar-work, doom/psyche attitude, riffs and power to please us metal fans, but equally enough psychedelic rock and prog for anyone dipping into those fields – plus more than enough talent in the music and vocals to impress the sternest music critic. Spiral Skies may take their influence from the past, but if this album is a portent, then the future is looking very bright for this exciting band.
(8.5/10 Andy Barker)