The Spirit – Sounds from the Vortex (Nuclear Blast)

Tuesday, 24th July 2018
Rating: 8/10

Thought highly enough of by the Nuclear Blast brass that it’s being reissued after its 2017 release on Eternal Echoes, The Spirit’s Sounds from the Vortex debut represents an obvious throwback for the label to one of its most groundbreaking releases, Dissection’s Storm of the Light’s Bane. This is not to say The Spirit goes the Naglfar or Thulcandra route and tries to either better Dissection and fail (Naglfar) or outright recreate them on purpose (Thulcandra), but the aesthetic, approach and attack of The Spirit is mightily welcome. Promise abounds.

This German unit is a clear-cut black/death mashup, capable of those devasting, whirling black metal chord combos to match wits with blinding technicality. Seriously, just one jaunt through the sonic tornado that is “The Clouds of Damnation” is quite obvious The Spirit are not ones to muck about. The song regularly shifts between heaving blasts and melo-tech couplings, rounding out with riffs that Mr. Nodveidt himself would approve in a heartbeat. “Cross the Bridge to Eternity” nearly goes one further, shuttling over the frozen fields in mid-tempo fashion, churning out more devastating tremolo-picked combos and icy motifs, in particular at the 5:35.

The only blowback to Sounds from the Vortex may be the fact that it has just seven songs. Then again, all of them, save for the opening title track which serves as an intro, are stacked to the gills with devastating riffing and transitions. And we’ll go back to this: The metal scene has spent over two decades trying to match Storm of the Light’s Bane and has yet to come close. (Not even Dissection tried to when they reemerged in the mid-’00s). However, The Spirit is the first band in quite some time who appear to be capable of carrying Dissection’s torch.

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