Much like the age-old adage regarding books and the presumptuous judging of their texts by their covers, anticipating an album’s sound simply based on the title or the artwork can be an exercise in futility. It’s often just best to jump in feet first (eardrums first?) and experience as it fills your head. But in the case of Heavy Electricity by No Spill Blood, the title and the artwork are indeed an example of WYSIWYG at its best. The outstretched hands on the cover, holding up a lit stick or possibly a flaming/sparking live wire, acts as a sort of post-apocalyptic clarion call, signaling a call to arms…and to rock. Perhaps this is the soundtrack to a Mad Max film that never saw the light of day. And the title? Well, it happily gives the game away and never looks back. This record is a blast of catchy, synth-drenched heavy metal energy from start to finish. Period. The End.
And yes, you read that right: “synth-drenched.” This trio from Dublin, Ireland makes their noise with an ear-catching blend of instrumentation, featuring bass, drums and loads and loads of synth. Add in Matt Hedigan’s lead vocals, wherein he barks or chants the lyrics moreso than singing, and you’ve got a recipe for tasty heaviness served up across a 46-minute span. What’s even more impressive is that this is their first full-length release. They put out a debut EP, entitled Street Meat, in 2012. While that record revealed a ton of promise, it was all over the map stylistically. I loved it when I first heard it, but Heavy Electricity shows a bit more maturity as it is a more cohesive journey throughout. The first fourth songs (“White Out,” “Back To The Earth,” “Now II” and El Duurto”) storm out of the gates with reckless abandon and fury. It doesn’t slow down a bit until the slow jam (relatively speaking) of “Harsh Route.”
As for calling them metal? While that’s certainly an apt categorization, their sound bleeds across into other genres: punk, electronica, and even whiffs of stoner rock. It’s a heady mix of influences that they manage to wield without sounding forced or derivative. If anything, you can’t help but trace a musical family tree back to filmmaker and synth extraordinaire, John Carpenter. There are strong Carpenter vibes throughout, especially on the two instrumental tracks: the title cut,“Heavy Electricity,” slows things down just enough for you to catch your breath, while the closer, “Endless Drift,” sounds like a lost piece from They Live or Halloween. All that said, the brilliance of their sound comes from how they meld that with a low end that is simply beastly. At times, it rivals the hooky/heavy sound that has been the signature of doom-pop metal band Torche since their inception. The easiest, though possibly not the best, mainstream comparison would be Death From Above 1979. But while both excel at that drums ’n bass vibe, No Spill Blood’s overall sound is fuller, obviously thanks to the aforementioned synth work.
Bottom line: this is good stuff. It’s one of my favorite albums of the year so far and definitely a strong contender for a year-end top ten. Give it a shot if you’re feeling adventurous. If you’d like to try before you buy, be sure to check out the full album stream over on their Bandcamp.
- Jeremy Hunt.