Spirits of the Dead

Rumours of a Presence

Written by: BV on 24/05/2013 17:59:20

Following my recent exposure to Spirits of the Dead through a live show I was DJ’ing at with my colleague AP, I can only find it logical and, perhaps, only fitting that it should be me who would eventually do the reviewing of their newest effort “Rumours of a Presence”. For those of you unfamiliar with the sounds of Spirits of the Dead, they are a progressive bunch that has a tendency to draw on influences from stoner rock and all the way over to the really psyched out sounds. In other words their soundscape is fueled by playful lyricism, echoing guitar sounds and dynamic instrumental sections that can lead the listener into a state of transcendence – given the right conditions, of course.

Album opener “Wheels of the World” is a fuzzy rocker that, to begin with, never really leads my thoughts to a ‘progressive’ soundscape. However, as the sophisticated lead-guitar figures enter the soundscape the mood of the track becomes quite grandiose and practically emanates a progressive ‘presence’ on the track. Singer Ragnar Vikse’s vocals are hazy and laid-back on this track, which is an odd turn of events, as he was quite the dominating force when I saw them live. Nonetheless I can tell that his drawn back place in the mix is no mere coincidence. The production of the album, as well as the arrangements of the instruments leaves no mere coincidences. It is all very much planned out down to the very last detail, and it actually reaches a climax with the guitar solo that only ‘truly beautifully’ orchestrated soundscapes can achieve. – The kind of climax where every instrument fits perfectly into the mix and there is neither too little nor too much going on.

On “Golden Sun” the vocals are slightly more audible and ‘forward’ in the mix, giving the impression that the vocals, and perhaps the lyrics, are the true focus here. The instrumentation on this track is masterfully executed due to the coupling of Ole Øvstedal’s soaring and fuzzy guitar leads with the tight and attention-grasping rhythm section consisting of Geir Thorstensen on the drums and Kristian Hultgren on the bass.

“Rumours of a Presence” is a cool progressive album with very few downsides to it. One thing I do think it lacks in the ‘progressive’ field could easily be the coherence that is often found on other progressive releases. Of recent successful attempts at coherence I could name The Von Hertzen Brothers’ album “Nine Lives” which is a consistent, story-telling album – whereas “Rumours of a Presence” gives me the impression of a bunch of songs that have been amassed, then released without much thought given to coherence. Don’t get me wrong though, despite the ‘lack’ of coherence “Rumours of a Presence” is a really cool album that is tightly packed with enormous soundscapes and cool jams. If you’re into progressive/psychedelic rock with a stoner twist, then this is definitely a must-have album of this year.

Download: Golden Sun, Oceanus, Wheels of the World
For The Fans Of: Brujas Del Sol, The Von Hertzen Brothers, King Crimson
Listen: facebook.com

Release Date 25.06.2013
White Elephant (Europe) / The End Records (US)


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