Brave is the band that openly describes itself as being “in the vein of” Tool. The more common this has become (and it really has become more common, unless people are very selective about pitching to this here webzine), the more often it disappoints: Maynard’s gang set a damned high benchmark, after all, and it’s rarely met. Newport independents Spiridion also namecheck Deftones in their press-release for A Moment Of Clarity, and by doing so have completely robbed me of the easy and obvious cop-out description of their sound. Which is, er, pretty much midway between Tool and Deftones.
But it’s a bloody good compromise from where I’m sitting. Absent are the over-technical graspings of so many Tool-a-be’s, and in is that mid-period Deftones aesthetic of riffs that sound extremely simple and crude at first (only to be revealed as simultaneously more simple and more complex with repeated listens). Most notable is the stately pace of things; fast seems to be fashionable again, and Spiridion are flying in the face of that, sounding like they’re deliberately holding back from every beat and note until the last possible microsecond… a stoned sound, if not really a stoner sound (though surely stoner-friendly). The production is clean, careful and minimal (surprising, perhaps, given that they’ve spent eight months working on it in their own studio), professional without being overpolished (but lacking that big-budget punch, most notably in the guitar tone and snare drum); the songs, while they owe a lot to those two main influences (and a few others) have a solidity and punch that suggests careful attention to detail.
Spiridion, then, are a rare bird indeed – a talented heavy guitar band out of Wales who don’t want to sound like Lostprophets (the core irony of the situation being that even Lostprophets don’t want to sound like Lostprophets any more… but I digress). Rare also in that their MySpace and website are both devoid of “meet the band!” mugshots, so I can’t put a name to their frontman who lurches from whimpered brain-broke psychodramatics to throaty bellows in a way that reminds me of little else other than the UK hardcore circuit circa 1997, before all this metalcore stuff came along and totally overbaked the sing/scream dichotomy into a homogeneous (and largely incomprehensible) cliche. To be sure, Chino and Maynard are clear influences… but the guy’s got the range to pull it off, and sounds like he could develop a pretty decent style of his own given time. (These days I’m all for music where I can hear the lyrics… yeah, I know, I’m probably too old to “get it”, but your cookie monster metalcore band still blows goats. So sue me.)
So this is probably the fairest truth one could tell about Spiridion: that they’re a band with great promise, just reaching that post-larval stage wherein they pupate inside a crisp casing of their influences before emerging as some new and glistening thing, ready to fly free, to defy and confound (and delight) net-wielding, jar-carrying taxonomists like myself – and maybe like you. I’ll be looking out for chances to catch them playing live, but in the meantime, A Moment Of Clarity is a passing good introduction to a British metal band who are bucking all the trends of the moment. If you’re bored of haircuts and histrionics (or, by the same token, beards and devil-horn hand-gestures), Spiridion have got your back.