Spell are an interesting 3 piece band from Canada on their third album. Purveyors of retro flavoured hard rock/metal and with two members of the band (the bassist and the drummer) sharing vocal duties. Aha! Just like fellow Canadians Triumph I hear none of you ask – well, that’s almost a perfect coincidence, aside from the fact that it was Triumph’s drummer and guitarist rather than the bassist that shared vocals…but the main stumbling point in the comparison is that Spell don’t really sound like Triumph at all. Actually, Spell sound more like Blue Oyster Cult if anything…who had a drummer who also contributed lead vocals! Yes!! (Nice save there even if I do say so myself…)
The retro vibe always shines through, and Spell do the whole thing very well indeed, never dipping too much into mere hard rock and stopping short of full-on Heavy Metal, instead utilising progressive flavours with hints of space rock, psyche and as mentioned earlier, much of that rarely trodden Blue Oyster Cult path – who were a band you never really knew quite what you are in for from one song to the next – a good trait that Spell also possess. Horisont are a similar modern day unit to Spell on the whole, along with maybe Nocturnalia on tracks like ‘Deceiver’, but the dual vocals give Spell another extra element. One that they maybe don’t commit to often enough, as occasionally the single vocal can drift a little off key.
There’s glimpses of early Rush here and there at one end of the bands musical spectrum, as well as the doom/space rock of Astra at times and even some Angel Witch about the darker tracks like ‘Primrose Path’ and ‘Saturn’s Riddle’. There is a shining a maturity about the 10 songs on offer on “Opulent Decay”, and a cohesion that smacks of three talented musicians working as one to complement each other as well as the individual songs. The album flows effortlessly as well as each individual track working expertly within itself. It’s an ambitious album, pushing its own boundaries and keeping everything fresh and unpredictable – the multi-vocal-virtually-acapella-choral ‘Ataraxia’ for instance – a brave undertaking that works really well. “Opulent Decay” is a diverse album that whilst staying within its own genre, somehow manages to find a way to push outwards in other directions, elaborating and expanding on Spell’s already unique approach and pushing the band ever onwards and upwards.
(8/10 Andy Barker)