Artist: Gold Spire
Album: Gold Spire
Label: Chaos Records
Release Date: 11/05/2021
We try to unpack the highly complex debut album Gold Spire from the band of the same name, Gold Spire. The album was released on November 5th on Chaos Records and has left people in a state of disbelief and wonder since.
If the album’s reputation has yet to precede it and you know nothing about the release going into this review, I will ask you one question. “Are you sick of having to choose between death metal, smooth jazz and prog rock?” Well, thanks to Gold Spire you no longer have to as the band have bravely chosen to merge the three genres with astonishing results. They’ve also thrown in some elements of doom here and there.
This isn’t your typical death metal record with a few interesting outside elements thrown in to make it seem special. This is an album that was written with each element held in equal regard, where jazz, prog rock and death metal take turns sharing the spotlight and taking the lead, as well as sharing plenty of overlap. The end result of this artistic decision is an album that is riddled with complex song structures, captivating instrumentals, raw powerful vocals and plenty of velvety smooth saxophone segments.
I know when I say proggy death jazz the first thing that comes to mind is Atheist and while they may be the originators of this fusion style the album takes things in a vastly different direction. While Atheist looked more at the free flowing and technical side of jazz, Gold Spire embrace the smooth, emotion evoking, atmospheric qualities of the genre. The heavy use of saxophone throughout the album is one of the factors that makes it so unique. Also, before you say, “well Rivers of Nihil already did that!” let me just say that it is far more prevalent here and done with a lot more forethought and planning. This isn’t simply an instrument thrown into the mix to keep things fresh, this is a leading element throughout the entire album.
As for the death metal side of things you’ll find everything you love about the genre still heavily present on the release. The vocals are powerful and harsh and come in two styles, more doom death guttural, and a rawer more barked style. The guitar work shifts between being technical and aggressive and more atmospheric in nature as is needed throughout the album.
Lastly, we have or prog rock influences which are a crucial part of the album’s overall complexity and captivating nature. There are fascinating riffs and unusual time signatures present throughout the album. What is truly important about this element though is the song writing approach that the band have taken. Each song evolves and unfolds as it progresses in the same manner as 70s prog rock bands wrote their music. Vastly different segments flow seamlessly into each other and never feel disjointed or out of place. Rather, they feel like the logical progression of the song’s direction, a trait that many modern progressive acts have failed to fully master. People will want to draw comparisons to Opeth in this regard and while I can see some similarities present (even a riff here or there) I have to say that the band are in no way an Opeth worship band.
Overall, this was one hell of a listen and easily one of the most interesting death metal albums of the year. The band get extra points for how unique of a listen the album is from start to finish. I greatly admire their approach to writing genre defying music and the fact that they honour and respect each element’s individual traits and qualities. So, take some time out of your day and embark on a sax filled death metal journey today.
Listen to and order the album: