Saturday, June 16, 2012

Spelljammer - 'Vol. II'

On their second EP, ‘Vol II’, Sweden’s Spelljammer have slightly reeled in the desert influenced stoner-groove approach that defined ‘Inches From the Sun’ in favor of a more doom oriented sound. The band hasn’t completely retooled their songwriting, but they have merely made an incremental shift in approach and the effects couldn’t be more stellar. All three tracks that make up ‘Vol II’ are immense, both in length and heft.

“Aun’s Mountain” begins solemnly enough with a sample from Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 1973 film ‘The Holy Mountain’: “Nine immortal men live on top of the mountain. They hold the secret to the conquest of death.” Delicate, slightly jazzy drumming and a gentle bass line serenely trail the quote providing a misleading sense of calm. After nearly a minute and a half into the track the bottom finally falls out. The listener is left at the mercy of the weight of the riffs and eventually a feedback strewn breakdown. The heaviness of “Aun’s Mountain” is indicative of what’s to be found on the remainder of the EP and the band is able to create enough variation within each of the lengthy songs so they never seem to overstay their welcome. With a running time of just over eight minutes, “Electric Ground” is the shortest track on ‘Vol II’. A simple, lone guitar riff is joined by a wave of seemingly never-ending feedback before the tune gains its lumbering momentum. It’s another excellent track that eventually regresses into a contemplative passage of bass and drums that is reminiscent of the quiet, meditative passages performed by Om. The ill-titled “Space Reefer” closes out the e.p. and it embraces the stoner-doom end of the spectrum that was mined so successfully on ‘Inches From the Sun’. It is perhaps the weakest of the three tracks, not because there is a steep decline in quality, but because it begins to reveal the formula of Spelljammer’s compositions.

Feedback drenched tunes with heavily distorted guitars, stoned-out riffs, and an excellent rhythm section are Spelljammer’s stock-in-trade. The band is creating and releasing some of the finest stoner metal today and ‘Vol II’ is one of this year’s highlights. Hopefully their EPs will see a physical release in the near future. Fans of Stonehelm, Kyuss, Elder and even Electric Wizard should take note.

Words: Steve Miller
(Originally published at Doommantia)



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