Tuesday 12 December 2023


If you like your grooves to have one foot in the 70's and one foot in the present day then you cannot fail to be impressed by New Zealand's The Death Spell, The Auckland trio of Ozan Turan (vocals/guitar); Alessandro Iraci (bass) and Owen Drew (drums) have just released their self-titled debut "The Death Spell" an intriguing blend of heavy rock, metal, stoner rock and heavy psych surprisingly bereft of many of the usual Sabbathian cliches that permeate much of what is released these days.

The Death Spell may not jam a groove as dark and dank as say Sabbath or Pentagram but their lyrics are pretty damn bleak and in places quite disturbingly clever. Take opening track "Nail You Higher Than Before" for instance, the song boasts a fairly strident crunching stoner/heavy rock groove but its lyrics, sung in gritty slightly sneery tones, leave you wondering if you are listening to the threats of a would be killer or a cryptic rant against religion with lines like "clowns of your father, his majesty’s, they’ll savour your last breath in revelry" adding to the confusion. "Leave You Lying On The Ground" finds Turan inviting someone to take a walk with him, promising them to "save your sinking heart" and "free your captive mind" against a backdrop of chugging riffage and busy tight percussion, the lyrics shifting from sweet promises to vitriol and threats in the songs final quarter, scary stuff! Next song "Funeral Pyre" tells a tale of the assassination of what we can only guess is a witch, the groove here s is a touch darker than on the albums previous songs but the dynamic leans more towards doom-ish than doom-ic. "Die Alone" follows, its depressing lyrics promising a lonely death are delivered over a surprisingly upbeat and punkish backbeat a feel that also spills over into next track "Witches Coven". Proto-doom/metal is the best way to describe the dynamic of next track "Potter's Fields Forever", this is probably the only song on the album where the band do get close to a Sabbathian sound, albeit with a little heavy psych thrown in for good measure. "I Am The Shadow" finds The Death Spell toying with prog-ish textures and elements of a blues-ish hue and boasts probably the albums most melodic vocal while final number "Kill In The Darkness" takes those bluesy hues and twins them with heavy rock rhythms and soaring guitar solos to close the album on a massive high and ensures interest in any recordings this ass-kicking band may make in the future.

The mention of the 70's in this review will immediately lead readers to assume we are talking about big hitters like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and other giants of rock's golden age, and to some extent we are, but people forget that there were also a raft of what were called second division bands around at that time, bands like Stray, May Blitz and Buffalo, and there are elements of those bands also to be found in The Death Spell's sonic attack along with essences of many of today's movers and shakers. The Death Spell's highly impressive debut is not quite album of the year stuff but it shows the potential these guys have to maybe one day make an album that is.
Check it out ...

© 2023 Frazer Jones

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