Good musicians, shame about the songs,
This review is from: Perfect Sides (MP3 Download)
Ukrainian band, Spiritz, have achieved a great deal with not a lot. Without a producer or a record label, they have self-released their début album, “Perfect Sides”, a piece of work with very few frills which showcases the raw talent of the players – and these guys can certainly play. The heaviness of the music lies somewhere between heavy rock and metal and their strengths are, without doubt, the throaty vocals of Bobby Black (who sounds remarkably like Jon Bon Jovi at times) and the twin guitars of Alex Serkin and A. Z. Hailey whose intelligent guitar lines are forever searching for as much melody as they can muster from the chord sequences, whilst mixing up some Iron Maiden-like arpeggios together with classic high-tempo solos and a few heartfelt wails and sustained notes for good measure.
The album is kicked off with an Arctic Monkeys-esque riff on one of their strongest songs, “Last Exam” which is only marred by a chorus where the lyrics are virtually indecipherable. “Freedom Zone” boasts some impressive metal guitar soloing, with plenty of speedy, yet melodic, tapping, “You In Me” has a few spiky riffs as well as some chiming bells to add a Gothic feel to the track and “Insane” is a big power ballad that morphs into a heavier, harder song but, whilst competent, really struggles to build any emotion the listener can connect with. “Life #9” comes across as a medium-tempo chugger, the busy “Not For You” attempts to be edgy with a bit of profanity, but it’s, er, not for me, “Little Dead People” is simply a typical hard rock offering which would struggle to meet the grade as an album track for most metal bands and “The Crow” sounds like an Axl Rose ballad which he decided wasn’t quite good enough for “Chinese Democracy”. If you like Marillion, you may wish to check out “Stop The Rain”, as they seem to do a passable impression of the band before bursting into something a little harder.
Quite honestly, with all my best intentions, it is around midway through the album where my interest really starts to wane. This is based upon listening to this release quite a few time, too, so it’s not like I haven’t given it a chance. Don’t misunderstand me, it’s not a bad album. On the contrary, it’s all very listenable, but the greatest pleasure that can be gained from listening to “Perfect Sides” is in appreciating the musicianship behind the songs, because, sadly, much of the writing simply feels a little too unremarkable and that, despite a handful of good ideas, it’s their song composition they need to work on the most. It would have been nice to say “Hey, that was a great song!” about any track on this album, rather than just appreciating the guitar work and their obvious passion, but it never actually happened, despite a bright start. In fact, if you wanted to sample what this band were all about, I’d suggest the first couple of tracks as they steer furthest away from the rock clichés Spiritz unwittingly offer throughout most of this album.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. The band play with enthusiasm, passion and self-confidence. It is, however, easy to hear their influences (which seem steeped in eighties and nineties rock/metal) and there is a need for a greater amount of originality. Naturally, fans who haven’t had a solid grounding in hard rock/metal artists may get a greater kick from this material, but anyone who knows their stuff may have a tougher time hearing something genuinely fresh here. In short, Spiritz have potential (there are certainly some nice aggressive riffs on offer) and I wish them the greatest of luck with their career, as well as hooking up with both commercial and creative forces who can help them fulfil their promise. The problems is, of course, there are hundreds of bands in the same situation as these guys and I can’t help but think that they will have to up their game significantly in terms of the actual songs they write before such good fortune comes their way. They have already written the material for a second album, so I hope they have a much stronger batch of songs ready to compliment the level of their playing abilities. We’ll just have to wait and see, but on the strength of this album alone, I can’t see them being anything other than fringe artists.