Looks like I completely misjudged this one when I chose it for review. Traditional heavy metal sounded good to me, I like traditional heavy metal, but this is metal of a rather pompous, theatrical, and maybe a little bit silly kind. And that I’m not into at all. Yes, Judas Priest and Iron Maidan were no strangers to drama and theatrics, but The Spirit Cabinet are taking things a bit further. Where to? Well, towards the silly. The video to the album’s opener Devils In The Details has the singer gesticulating dramatically to an opera-like vocal display while wearing those mirrored American policemen sun glasses and waving a rubber snake around every now and then. Starting with the band name, this definitely has a tongue-in-cheek element.
The Spirit Cabinet are a quartet from the Netherlands and Bloodlines is their second full-length album, a highly anticipated one too – at least that’s what the press release says. Formed in 2014, from (ex-)members of other Dutch bands like Urfaust and Hooded Priest, they released their debut titled Hystero Epileptic Possessed in 2015 to favourable reviews. We also reviewed it here.
A certain quirkiness seems to be the band’s trademark, and quirky is certainly an adjective that fits Bloodlines as well. The album changes course frequently, and very often mid-track, mixing genres, going from rock to heavy metal to slow doomy passages to black metal. The vocals definitely and undeniably have an impressively wide range. In the course of the album, and sometimes in one track, you will hear clean singing, opera-like vocals and black metal screeching and rasping.
Devils In The Details begins as a rock number, and a quite catchy one at that. I like the track’s beginning. The atmosphere changes significantly, however, as soon as the tempo is reduced and the vocals set it. From then on, drama and theatrics prevail.
The album continues with In Antique Vortex. An initial fast passage with raspy vocals makes you think that things will finally get going, but then the track turns slow and sluggish again. Satan the Healer has the guitar playing a somewhat oriental-sounding tune in the beginning. After a break, the rhythm changes quite unexpectedly to gallop, before once again the high-flying vocals set in. How do oriental tunes and a gallop rhythm go together? Well, I suppose the Saracens had horses too.
Things are turned around a bit with The Medium in the Mask, the fourth track, which starts out with the slowest music and the most dramatic vocal display of the album, and around the middle turns into black metal, furious and fast with throaty, screechy vocals. For me, the first part of the track is the most challenging bit of music on the album, while its middle part might be the best.
The album has two more tracks, Subtle Art of Sleep Paralysis and The Celestial Intelligencer, but they don’t feature anything I haven’t mentioned so far. The album’s total running time adds up to just under fifty minutes.
I like bits of every track on this album. But each track also has bits that I don’t like at all. Altogether, this just isn’t for me. Might have fared slightly better with someone else.