Texan purveyors of blackened crust Wildspeaker release their second full length on Prosthetic Records. A notable departure in the tone of 2015’s Survey the Wreckage (self-released) Spreading Adder has a much sludgier feel. Whilst Survey the Wreckage had a brighter and sharper tone, Spreading Adder is much lower and dirtier and the most obvious change is that vocals are more hidden in the mix, which limits their power.
The album starts off with the brooding, slow Doom feel of ‘Apparent Death’, plenty of harsh guitars feedback to add to the atmosphere, before launching into the ferocity of the title track; an odd rhythm giving rise to furious blasting and a raw cathartic rage, reminiscent at times of Trap Them. This continues into ‘Elegy’. Apart from some rather lovely bass lines weaving around the tune, there’s not much in the way of finesse or melody here, fortunately there are plenty of buzzsaw riffs to keep us occupied.
Although ‘Cinders’ is on the punk side of their repertoire, it’s becoming difficult to differentiate between the individual tracks. They all fuse together into a single ebb and flow of raw emotion, fury, and a sort of bleak introspective void. But with a minimalist songwriting approach, it’s at this point the limitations of their current formula is becoming apparent.
By ‘False Mourning’ a notable fatigue is setting in, I’m almost hoping for a power ballad. Ironically this is one of the stronger tracks on the album, but at this point the overarching lack of variation is wearing thin. No doubt better in a live setting, it’s struggling in the album format.
Tracks like ‘False Mourning’, and ‘Shadow’ are key points in the album as these are when the formulaic nature of the album starts to grind, and yet also when Wildspeaker pull it out of the bag and deliver some of their more compelling moments, but just a touch too late. A few more tracks down the line and I found myself having to check I’ve not accidentally put the album on repeat.
Final track ‘Renewal’ does end the album on a high as, along with ‘Still Life’ it’s one of the stronger and more satisfying tracks on offer. It’s clear from these tracks and Survey the Wreckage that Wildspeaker have plenty of potential, and can put a tune together. However, with the overall presentation of Spreading Adder they don’t quite deliver on that potential this time.