Spiritu/Village Of Dead Roads
Human Failures - Split
posted on 2/2006 By:
The latest offering from MeteorCity ushers in two welcome returns. The first is the comeback of the MeteorCity split, which has previously spawned celebrated pairings like Unida and Dozer, and Nebula and Lowrider. The second bit of good news is the reemergence of Spiritu, who after four years has produced a follow up to their highly regarded debut album. A well paired split is one of the more rewarding listening experiences, both idealistically and stylistically, and Human Failures strikes a nice balance between contrast and continuity, and the established and the new. Pennsylvania’s Village of Dead Roads provides the “new”, and their decidedly darker and doomier approach plays foil to Spiritu’s up-tempo desert rock. Together, the two bands have combined nearly an hour of consistently solid and interesting tunes.
Village of Dead Roads tackles the second half of the split, but lets address them first, for a change. The debutantes from Eerie contribute the final four tracks of Human Failures, and show both a good bit of talent as well as the promise for growth. Compared to Spiritu, VODR’s contributions are generally longer, darker, and more doom laden, but the band still provides considerable diversity in tone and approach. Looming YOB-like riffage predominates, but the band has a habit of throwing in the occasional Isis styled melodic elongations. This compliments the non-traditional vocal approach which vacillates between clean vocals and a bark that is closer to a hardcore lineage. The band has crafted an interesting balance, but not yet entirely perfected it. Still, despite some slight unevenness, VODR have turned in a solid first effort that picks up steam as it progresses. Opener “Descendants of the Dendrites” sports some tantalizing doomy riffs, but once the band settles into the chorus the song loses a little momentum. The muted choppy chords and barked lyrics combine in a fashion that comes across as a little too vanilla. Fortunately the song is well developed and offers numerous twists. The long, instrumental stretch toward the end is more convincing, as swirling guitar lines and punchy riffing and drum work build intensity nicely. The band takes a dark turn for their last two tracks, “Woman of Ill Repute” and “Divine Mistake”. This material is more consistently doom focused and more bleak and oppressive in tone. Although it’s less adventuresome than the first two songs, the flip side is that it is more even, especially compared to the first track. Interestingly, both Village of Dead Roads and Spiritu offer a song that is as close to each other’s tone as their own. For VODR, this is their second track, “Skin Prison”, which has a laid back groove that’s atypical for the band. This is matched by a full voiced, melodic clean vocal delivery that helps make the song one of the more interesting moments in the collection. While their contribution is just slightly less convincing than the first half of Human Failures, Village of Dead Roads’ half of the split is still a solid and enjoyable offering from a young band that will be entirely dangerous in an album or two.
New Mexico’s Spiritu opens the proceedings with four tracks of classy desert rock grooviness. As I look back after several listens, I can’t believe that I initially found these songs to be a bit unassuming--never dull, and most certainly not bad, but not nearly as vibrant as I find them now. Spiritu’s difference maker is the cultured throat of Jadd Shickler, whose soulful delivery adds immeasurably to the songs’ bite and hook. The band’s up-tempo sun baked riffs pop with a fuzzy energy, and fans of Kyuss and Clutch will soak up Spiritu hungrily. The two opening tracks dump bongloads of crunchy riffs and confident melodies as a spirited backdrop for laid back, soulful vocals. On the other hand, “Latitude” has a darker tone, making it a parallel to the lighter one of VODR’s “Skin Prison”, and here Jadd’s vocals lurk beneath the roiling, fret jumping nastiness with a predatory seductiveness. He eventually steps out in front of the music to belt out the tantalizing soaring melodies that make the band so damn addictive. But it’s the last track that really seals the deal. “Throwback” flat out fucking smokes. An intro of buoyant pull-off riffs and raspy, aggressive vocals explodes into the verse, when the rest of the band joins in to bang out a crisp swagger and jackhammer punch. The hyperactive bass work throughout the track is also outstanding. The band simply fires on all cylinders, and as they come to a crashing climax at the end of this fourth and final track, it’s impossible not to wonder why they've made us wait so long for new material, and to hope they follow up Human Failures as soon as possible. In the meantime, MeteorCity has started off 2006 on a bright note with Human Failures. Both bands please–definitely recommended.
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