Band: Band of Spice
Album: Shadows Remain
Release Date: 27th October, 2017
Label: Scarlet Records
Review by Sean
The press release reads:
“Legendary Swedish singer/songwriter Spice (Spiritual Beggars, Kayser) returns with ‘Shadows Remain’, a new album by his very own Band Of Spice, a theme record about a certain period in the singer’s life that was dominated by madness.”
Those that know me, know that while I am and always will be a metalhead, my music tastes can vary wildly. There will be times when I will change what I’m listening to mid album, or even mid song. So when I was told that this album was “a bit of an odd one”, I was well on board. Indeed this album covers many bases, from rock, to metal, blues, jazz, and at one point even Bossa Nova. It’s mental, it’s wacky, and I loved it.
Kicking things off is intro track, ‘Only One Drink’, which could appear on many a country album, so right away we’re starting off on an odd foot. It’s a short track, a despondent track, and honestly, as a bit of a redneck, it was right up my alley. But, it quickly fades away into something much different, ‘The Pet’, which kicks things up a notch or seven. It’s got a Metallica sort of sound to it, if Metallica were a much better band. Hard, fast, heavy, with snarled lyrics and “huh!” vocals all over the place. It’s the sort of song where if a band had an entire album sounding like this, I’d knock it and say it wasn’t that good, but as a standalone song it’s actually pretty fucking good. There’s a really good groove to it near the end, and I do love me some groove in a song.
‘Coherent Train of Thought’ changes things up slightly again, and get used to that happening across this album. This time the sound is more akin to the sort of sound you’d get if Black Stone Cherry decided to go metal. It’s weird, different, and I still love it. It’s one of my favourites on the album, and when you hear it you’ll understand exactly what I mean, because it’s just one of those songs you can’t not like. This is followed by ‘Don’t Bring Me Flowers’, and, people may not like me for saying this, but it has a sound somewhat similar to Avenged Sevenfold. There will be other “more acceptable” bands this one sounds like, but if we’re being broad here, that is what this track sounds like. Check it out for yourself with the lyric video below this review.
From there,though, we get a bit of a Primus sounding one in, ‘Caught In A War’. It opens with a damn fine bass intro, and then goes into a distortion heavy full band section, before stripping back to the bass again, with a sort of jazzy drum accompaniment. It’s a very different track to what we’ve heard so far on the album, but given what the track is about (depression) it fits perfectly. There are some guitar parts here and there, but for the most part, it’s just the bass and drums, and this is another of my favourite tracks on the album. In its own way, it conveys depression much more than something intentionally sad and depressing can. And the solo is immense. I do love some twin guitar harmonies.
‘They Are Around’ changes things yet again, there’s Hammond organ action to be found here. It’s a sublime change up, and gives us a sort of Deep Purple type track. It’s a sound that is rarely heard these days, at least done well, and honestly, I’d love some more stuff that was like this. It perfectly captured the band at their best, and really does show the range on offer here.
Speaking of musical range…..‘Apartment 8’ is… Well it’s a fucking jazz track. It’s smooth, it’s jazzy, it’s actually surprisingly good. It’s not the sort of thing I’d blare out of my speakers, but it’s something I can really dig when the mood strikes me, and I’ll be honest, the mood is currently striking me. Though, I can’t imagine many jazz songs with swearing in them, this is still a fine track. The only problem is, it ends and then the genre changes again. This time we’re in Stoner territory for, ‘The Saviour And The Clown’. Once again a genre I fucking love, and once again the genre is nailed. It’s fuzzy, it’s melodic but hard edged, it’s slow but quickens up when it needs it, it’s StonerMetal 101, and it’s an A* for me.
It’s like Spice is a true savant. He can nail whatever style of music he aims to write in, and I’ve not heard a single bad thing on this album so far. It’s not often you find a musician who is just THAT GOOD at whatever they do, but he truly is.
So, onward to a very familiar rock sound, it’s the AC/DC sounding, ‘Give Me A Hint’. There’s no escaping it, it’s an AC/DC track. It’s not one the band ever wrote, but that guitar riff is unmistakably Angus. Again, not knocking it, I happen to really like some AC/DC, and once again, is testament to just how Spice can change things up when he writes. Honestly, he does it better than they can. That may not be a popular opinion, but it’s my thoughts on this one all the same. It’s like the Aussie group, but there’s an edge to it, a roughness that just hasn’t been there with them in decades.
‘Sheaf’ has a funkier flow to it from the off, it’s sort of back in the direction of BSC, but the guitar and bass have a Chili’s sound to them more than anything else. If I had to have something not glowing to say about this album, then this song is that bit. It’s not a bad song at all, it’s still a damn good song, but, of all the songs on offer here, it’s the least best. Not worst, least best.
‘The Gap’ moves us on from that though, and if Breed 77 were still recording, this is EXACTLY the sort of song they’d give us. It’s amazingly uncanny, and it’s another of my favourites on here. If you know that band you’ll know fully what you’re gonna hear here, and, like me, you’ll love it too.
Honestly, if Band of Spice ever tour with this album, it’s gonna be a fun one to watch, because people just won’t know what to do song to song. Every single one is different, and it’s brilliantly done.
Speaking of different, we have the Bossa Nova style fully on show here in, ‘Take Me Home’. Like I said, if they toured supporting this album, I’d love to see the crowd going from headbanging to… well whatever the fuck metalheads do when confronted with something that you absolutely cannot go mental for. Though, saying this is a Bossa Nova track is a bit misleading. I honestly don’t know what to call this one. Bluesa Nova? Does that work? Is it trademarked? If not, dibs. But that’s what it is, as close as I can get to it anyway. Oddly, this is actually my favourite track on the album. I just love how chilled it is, how oddly different it is.
We close out with ‘Apartment 8 Part II’, which is a more haunting track, at least to start, and is reminiscent of Alice in Chains, at least to me. And at least if they played acoustically. It’s another favourite on what has been an album of favourite tracks. That sounds like a cop out I know, but to me, this album was just that good and just managed to hit that many things in music I like.
At this point I’d like to say that for people like me, whose brain is wired in such a way that music has an effect on us that nothing else comes close to (I know a lot of you will be saying “I’m like this too!”, and no, most of you aren’t. It’s hard to explain vocally, and even harder here, so just… just shh) this album is perfect. It manages to blend so many different styles that just shouldn’t be part of the same sandwich and make it work. It’s like that Nutella, bacon, and jam sandwich I made once. The ingredients on their own are gorgeous, they really shouldn’t be put together, but if you do put them together, they’re still gorgeous as a group. That is this album. It won’t be for everyone, but it’s damn well sure for me.
01. Only One Drink
02. The Pet
03. Coherent Train Of Thoughts
04. Don’t Bring Me Flowers
05. Caught In A War
06. They Are Around
07. Apartment 8
08. The Saviour And The Clown
09. Give Me A Hint
11. The Gap
12. Take Me Home
13. Apartment 8 (Part II)
Visit the band on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BANDofSPICE-161181420587878/
Get the album here: Band of Spice