Spillage – Phase Four (Qumran Records)Wednesday, 6th September 2023
The Chicago musical landscape has always been active in multiple heavy genres – including the work of this sextet Spillage. Their fourth album Phase Four contains relevant current issue content (science/medical research, AI, behavioral manipulation, and business/government influences to name a few) matched up with a sound that pulls from doom metal and classic 70’s hard rock/heavy themes to create a catchy, dynamic set of songs. The musical interplay, soulful vocals, and groove/pocket-oriented tempos keep the eight tracks flowing in energetic bliss, even when the band settles into slower, more brooding pastures.
An immediate standout factor comes from the older organ/keyboard output from Paul Rau – the foundation laying down a Uriah Heep meets Deep Purple connection that allow the guitar work of Tony Spillman and Nick Bozidarevic to weave mysterious, lower tone riff activities which channel the spirit of older Trouble, Judas Priest, or even early Savatage in spots. When choosing to go into a more epic direction for “Nothing to See”, the mystical atmosphere penetrates the chord progressions, allowing singer Elvin Rodriguez to channel his wide array of emotions – sadness, despair, persistence, and boldness all there through the verses and titanic chorus. The progressive instrumental piano parts give way to a solid mid-tempo anthem template for “The Eleventh Hour”, the bluesy lead break as well as gang-like background vocal cheering near the end adding more life to an already lively cut. Production values subscribe to a similar 70’s analog/throwback nature – even when effects are used, they are only peppered in to assist the vibe present, never overstepping the musical proceedings as the primary focal point. The futuristic cover art could be a bit confusing though to prepare the listener for the contents ahead – while it mirrors many of the themes lyrically, it isn’t typical of what one would expect from a doom-based/ 70’s-oriented heavy music act.
In the end, Spillage possesses the best tools to carve out a catchy brand of heavy metal/hard rock for Phase Four – especially for those who love the early roots/influences from this genre.