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Crystal Spiders – Molt

Crystal Spiders
Molt
by Matt Bozenda at 01 November 2020, 2:03 PM

Heavy Metal’s relationship with Classic Rock has always been somewhat strained. Some may call it a father-son dynamic, but with a little nuance you might see them as cousins. If Classic Rock is a person, that person has long hair, stocks shelves for a living, and smokes dope before band practice. If Heavy Metal is a person, that person sells dope to their cousin’s band.

To think that music journalists once referred to bands like LED ZEPPELIN and DEEP PURPLE as Heavy Metal almost seems like a panic move. Even BLACK SABBATH, for all their well-deserved platitudes and deep roots in the genre, aren’t strictly a Heavy Metal band; Tony Iommi himself has always referred to them as a Blues-Rock group. The question practically poses itself: why not both?

The sound that most encapsulates the marriage of Rock and Metal is the fuzzy riff, and its worshippers can bow down to a pandemic-era champion in "Molt", the positively megalithic debut of CRYSTAL SPIDERS. The drum-and-bass duo comes cavaliering onto the scene from North Carolina carrying the banner first held aloft by fellow Tar Heels CORROSION OF CONFORMITY, and the southern charms have not worn thin since those legends came around. The elder influences are distant, where instead the listener might harken FU MANCHU, KYUSS, or other such Stoner Rock heavyweights. The album has a Classic Rock sort of sensibility to it, given a Punk filtering, with enough Psychedelic-Blues distortion to jam a radar screen.

Starting out "Trapped" on track one is a bass so heavily distorted it may as well be a Hammond organ, which gives way to a sledgehammering drum accompaniment for a down-tempo odyssey. The title track follows up with boilerplate psychedelia given a master’s treatment, as Brenna Leath’s incredible range is given a test and passes. "Tigerlily" slows things down, almost to a plod at times, but impeccable drumwork by Tradd Yancey really makes the track shine.

"Chronic Sick", the album’s longest jam at just under seven minutes, is heavy and methodical in the vein of early ORANGE GOBLIN. The next track, "C-U-N Hell", gets the peculiar spelling from the chorus, where Brenna really leans into the first three letters, and against a tune that is very radio ready. "Gutter" gives a nod to the Palm Desert scene that’s clearly influenced them, as does the outro "Fog", with the track "Headhunters" providing a little break from the template.

This album’s wings are truly spread, however, on track seven, "The Call". With Classic Rock drumming on vintage distorted bass peppered with the striking vox in the first half before a heavy dose of fuzz puts you back on the moon for the second half, it covers all the bases for the band’s overall sound and technique. This one is definitely a candidate for the all-2020 playlist.

So fuzz lovers rejoice! Like barnacles on a ship’s hull, this album isn’t quite the metal it probably used to be, but you’ll feel the keelhauling all the same. CRYSTAL SPIDERS shares their name with a song by UNCLE ACID AND THE DEADBEATS, but whether that’s an intentional homage or not, the Stoner/Psych society will have to wonder. CRYSTAL SPIDERS has their own identity though, an enchanting vocalist and heavily distorted bassist with an exquisite and professional drummer. The talent level here is obvious for album number two, and since the debut has blown out the walls AND the roof, that leaves only the sky to rein them in.

Musicianship: 8
Songwriting: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Trapped
2. Molt
3. Tigerlily
4. Chronic Sick
5. C-U-N Hell
6. Gutter
7. The Call
8. Headhunters
9. Fog
Lineup:
Brenna Leath – Bass/vocals
Tradd Yancey – Drums/vocals
Record Label: Ripple Music
     


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Edited 04 October 2022
 

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