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Gold Spire – Gold Spire

Gold Spire
Gold Spire
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 18 November 2021, 2:53 PM

GOLD SPIRE was formed in 2019 in Uppsala, Sweden, by brothers Erik Sundström and Påhl Sundström following the demise of Påhl's former band. Functioning as co-producer and session drummer for USUPRESS, Erik worked closely with Påhl on what came to be the last album of the Prog/Death outfit, 2018's “Interregnum.” The ideas that were created during these sessions, together with the general focus on storytelling rather than genre considerations, formed the basis on which GOLD SPIRE was born. To keep the nerve in the songwriting process and urgency in the performances, they chose to invite musicians outside of the traditional metal spectrum: Jazz Saxophonist extraordinaire Magnus Kjellstrand and Progressive Rock bassist Petter Broman. The circle was completed by adding an absolute legend of Death Metal on vocals: Heval Bozarslan.

“Day Dawns Dark” leads off the album. It sets the mood, with clean, somber guitars and notes of both darkness and light. Segueing into “Headless Snake,” which opens with more clean guitars and some subdued, tense tones that you can feel are there but haven’t materialized just yet. Death vocals enter along with distorted, dissonant guitars. The saxophone notes level the song back towards the lighter end, though the dissonant rhythms continue. Segueing into “The Old Bridge” with clean guitar tones, heavier tones approach out of the blue like the weighted stomps of footsteps from a giant awakening after a long winter’s hibernation…thud, thud, thud. “Gloria” begins with slower clean tones and more sax. Distorted tones come in for a spell then it’s back that opening sound, which is wonderfully depressing.

“Husk of God” also begins with despondent clean guitars and sax. The album seems to have found a bit of clarity in theme at this point. Let the gray clouds roll in and release a steady, slow rain that soaks the earth for weeks on end, while you stay in bed, hardly noticing the passage of days. “Skull Choirs” drops a bomb on you following two previously mellow songs. There is still quite a lot of dissonance here which is hard to work through…almost like thick spider webs that cloud your vision everywhere you turn. More sax comes in but I find it hard to describe as “jazz,” in that the tones are mostly dark and dispirited.

“Fetid Waters” again features more sax notes with a hefty dose of Death vocals and slow, grinding rhythms. The sound drops off around the half-way mark, where the sax notes become a bit more playful. A more powerful sound comes around the corner, finishing with more sax notes. “The Wayfinder” closes the album. This instrumental pushes the feelings of a gray skies and similar days in succession deeper and deeper into you, and makes you just want to pack it up and head home, mission unaccomplished.

This was a fairly unique album, even for the genre-bending style that was described in the beginning. Saxophone is not however totally unique in Progressive Death Metal (see RIVERS OF NIHIL, for example), but the way it was used here was just odd. Dissonance is used throughout the album, making it hard to find a central theme or central style. What I mostly hear are experimental elements that come from several different directions. I typically find this type of sound to be right up my alley, but I think in this case the band would do better to reign some of these elements in and focus more concisely on the music. I would however keep my eye on these guys for a future release.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 5
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Day Dawns Dark
2. Headless Snake
3. The Old Bridge
4. Gloria
5. Husk of God
6. Skull Choirs
7. Fetid Waters
8. The Wayfinder
Lineup:
Heval Bozarslan – Vocals
Erik Sundström – Drums/Keyboards
Påhl Sundström – Guitars
Magnus Kjellstrand – Saxophone/Flute
Petter Broman – Bass
Record Label: Chaos Records
     


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