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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

West of Hell

Spiral Empire

Review by Gary Hill

These guys have produced a pretty awesome metal disc here. It’s raw, but also melodic. There is thrash mixed with NWOBHM and more extreme metal. If there’s one complaint to be made about this crunch-fest it’s that it would have been stronger without the weird bonus track added to the end of the album.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Father of Lies

Killer technical metal opens this up and the cut builds out from there. It’s got a great NWOBHM meets epic metal feeling to it. The vocals are sort of along the Iron Maiden line of sounds. There are some more Maiden-like moments musically later, too. This is quite heavy and more modern sounding at other points. It’s a cool tune that really screams. Yet, it’s also pretty dynamic and diverse.

Water of Sorcery
Coming in fierce, this is more rough in terms of the vocals. It’s got a more underground metal element in that aspect, but the music is in keeping with the first tune. In a lot of ways this makes me think of King Diamond. I heard some of that on the opener, but it’s more obvious here. The guitar solo section is pretty awesome and there’s a great gang vocal segment after that.
Demon Sent
There’s not as much diversity here. Instead, this is just frantic, somewhat raw, metal. There’s no need to think of that as any kind of step down, though. This thing is pretty awesome and certainly stands tall.
Faceless the Droids
The general concept hasn’t changed a lot from the previous one. This is aggressive and very tasty, though, and doesn’t feel like more of the same at all.
Unworthy
More furious metal is heard here. This one is rather thrashy and quite raw.
Singularity
I really dig the slightly off-kilter rhythmic structure here. This is more NWOBHM meets thrash and underground metal. It’s another screamer on a disc that’s full of them, yet each song has an individual identity. This one turns towards a more melodic, yet still fierce, almost technical metal sound later.
To War
The opening section of this is very much in a technical metal approach. It gets to some screaming, rawer sound after that introduction. As it continues those motifs seem to be merged for a more complete sound. It gets very aggressive later as the singer screams “go to war!” There’s some great melodic guitar soloing that follows it.
Soul Taker
This one is more thrash oriented. The vocals are more screamed. While this cut is raw, there is a technical guitar solo section.
Spiral Empire
I love the riff that drives this. It’s not that far removed from the rest of the music on the disc, but there’s also some killer melodic metal guitar soloing on this, the title track. There is a section later with non-lyrical vocals over more melodic guitar that certainly calls to mind Iron Maiden. The cut is really one of the most dynamic on the set.
Onslaught
With a title like “Onslaught,” what do you expect? Well, most likely you’ll figure the piece is going to be frantic thrash with no letting up. If that’s your guess, you’ll definitely be right. It’s a screaming powerhouse that serves as a great conclusion to the set. That said, there’s an almost psychedelic rock section that serves as the outro and, this isn’t really the final volley of the CD.
Hidden Track
After a couple minutes of silence there’s a weird little piece with some strange voice mail messages. Some of which are rather vulgar. Then there’s a little bit of “go tell it to the mountain” delivered in an over the top tongue in cheek way. This is just plain weird. There are more oddities, but no real music to this thing.  
 
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