The Spirit – Sounds From The Vortex

A cold nocturnal Scandinavian wind blows; icy tendrils stabbing southwards, searching, seeking for blackened hearts to infect. The hosts wait, apprehensive, yet welcoming, ideas already pregnant. The frost-bitten hunter swirls at first, before plunging its whole intent deep into the waiting prey. Saarbrücken, Germany, nominally a thriving, modern economic centre, is now the scene for the cultivation of a different type of essence, for that which grows inside it is not the spirit of commerce, but The Spirit of melodic blackened metal.

And this mysterious darkened entity, whose collective is known only by initials, channeled this infection into the Sounds From The Vortex, a maelstrom of blackened, thrash metal and dark gothic peals with melodious lead guitar refrains.

Initially independently released less than a year ago, Heavy Metal behemoths Nuclear Blast have, in turn, found themselves prey to the savage charms of the bitter hibernal refrains, and empowered The Spirit by setting their Sounds… into the wider world, seeking to further the contagion, to spread the wintry plague.

And at its peak – the dynamic ‘The Clouds of Damnation’ or the feral ‘Illuminate The Night Sky’, enhanced and invigorated with a thoughtful folky mid-point of clean reflection – it can be a powerful contaminant indeed. The guitar lines scythe, the tempos are furious and blizzardly, the harsh throat of MT cuts, razor-sharp, to the bone, and the infection courses through the veins, intoxicating in ways… I sense something. A presence I’ve not felt since…

And it is here we must alight from this metaphor and address the ghostly Victorian stagecoach driver in the room. Dissection, whose hooded-reaper-astride-a-black-horse quintessence enshadows this work. And not in the way that Watain do things, where there is a clear influence, but ideas have been developed and mutated in line with a sense of individualism. No, this sounds exactly like Dissection. And therein lies both its strength (for Dissection released two of the best underground albums there will ever be) and the weakness (for The Spirit cannot ever reach the levels their inspiration did). Every element of their sound is lifted from Jon Nödtveidt’s blueprint and while lovingly recrafted, pales in comparison. Of course it does, for imitation without innovation can only ever lead to a diluted version.

Sounds From The Vortex, though, is still a good album, and one that reminds once more of just how excellent Dissection was, and what a vital merging of melody, black metal and thrash they melded.