Spirits Of The Dead – Rumours Of A Presence

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Review by Jason Guest

The End Records

Swinging in from Norway with album number two, Rumours Of A Presence, Spirits Of The Dead’s psychedelic stoner folk rock draws heavily on all things 70s, the band having spent many a midnight hour blowing the dust out of the grooves of their well-worn classic vinyl collection in preparation for another extended sojourn into some seriously laid-back intensity. Simplicity and subtlety is the name of the game here. With riffs lifted straight off of Black Sabbath’s Vol. 4, 60s pop-tinged-by-LSD-infused-spirituality, and early-King Crimson/San Franciscan peace-and-love-and-alternative-beliefs lyrics, the album is one of subtle optimism and enigmatic shades.

With ‘Wheels Of The Dead’ and ‘Song of Many Reefs’ tending towards the heavier aspects of their sound, ‘Golden Sun’ and ‘Dance Of The Dead’ tap into the melodic and textural, the latter in particular more an atmospheric piece than a “song”. While the lead break of the title track conjures up that most psychedelic of images – the Jeff Beck-bonneted Nigel Tufnel – it’s the doom riffing of this track as well as that of ‘Red Death’ that have the most impact. While the acoustic ‘Seaweed’ breaks into something sweetly serene and introspective, closing track ‘Oceanus’ – ‘When The Levee Breaks’ meets ‘Second Coming’-era Stone Roses (I swear it’s Ian Brown on vocals) – sees the band pushing out of pastiche and reverent imitation into innovation. A sign of things to come, perhaps?

Generally, the tracks follow similar simple structures, and so do the riffs, their simple patterns more-often-than-not repeated in four-bar loops with little variation other than the occasional harmony part or melodic lick to add colour. The drums, too, stick closely to the same beats and the vocals follow the same melodic pattern across each track’s verses. But this not a bad album. It’s the simplicity of the tracks that compels further listens. Spirits Of The Dead have got a keen sense of melody and they know what makes a good riff and what makes a great hook.  When they’ve fully developed their own voice, Spirits of The Dead will produce something extraordinary.

Print6.5 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Wheels Of The World
  2. Song Of Many Reefs
  3. Golden Sun
  4. Dance Of The Dead
  5. Rumours Of A New Presence
  6. Red Death
  7. Seaweed
  8. Oceanus