Saturday, November 28, 2015

…on the edge of space: SPELLJAMMER – ‘Ancient of Days’

Cosmically atmospheric and seismically heavy are really just two starting points to describe Spelljammer’s triumphant return, Ancient of Days. The Swedish heavy-hitters, now acting as a three-piece, are as sonorous as ever and the reduction in personnel and shifting of duties hasn’t tarnished the band’s mission or overall sound in the slightest. Ancient of Days plays out as both a logical extension and worthy successor to their last epic sonic offering, Vol. II (review HERE). 

Album-opener “Meadow” is a smoldering, pulsating slab of intergalactic debris set for a collision course with the Sun that perfectly establishes the tone for the ensuing onslaught of amplifier worshipping aftershocks to follow. Anyone who has had the privilege of catching Sleep live since reforming in 2009 should have a pretty good idea of what to expect while listening to and experiencing Spelljammer’s latest. The riffs, when in full-effect and dialed-in to crush, are all-encompassing and damn near impenetrable. “Meadow” is mostly a slow burn—a sorcerous wall-of-sound force capable of obliterating a small planet. Spelljammer’s proficiency with intertwining massive barrages of distorted riffs with softer, spacier moments has only grown over time.

The trippy, yet bluesy, intro to “From Slumber” elucidates Spelljammer’s deftness with crafting subtle textures and ability to manipulate tension—a tension that is eventually laid-to-waste by the heft of “The Pathfinder.” In addition to highlighting the psychedelic side of Spelljammer, “From Slumber” also illuminates the fluid, wave-like bass playing of Niklas Olsson who had previously played guitar on prior releases. The bass presence on the entire album takes Spelljammer’s music to previously unattainable planes.

Ancient of Days is a more-than-welcome addition to Spelljammer’s stellar discography, especially when not long after the release of Vol. II the band’s future appeared uncertain. Ancient of Days is as good as anything they have released prior and the band is just as potent, if not more so, as a three-piece. Fans of immense, psychedelic doom and heavy rock will not be disappointed in Ancient of Days. Easily one of the year’s very best…



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