Monday, March 7, 2011

Spellbound - Incoming Destiny (2005)

For the loyal thrasher who is tired of hearing the repetition of so many 80s concepts to the letter, a band like Spellbound initially promises something exciting. They'd been kicking around for some years before this debut through Armageddon Music, producing a number of demos, until their signing coincided with the whirlwind rebirth of thrash popularity by the middle of the past decade. They also set this album up pretty well with an escalating guitar into and a reasonably fist pumping title track, with guitars that fall somewhere between Exodus and Artillery, and vicious throaty vocals that conjure up comparisons to German gods Kreator, Destruction, Tankard and Vendetta!

And then, they proceed to lose some momentum over the next 40 minutes...

The problem here is not one of sound, as they've got a lot more studio polish to them than many other, younger thrash acts, and the guitars have a loud crunch to them with carefully balanced melodies and solos, but really it's just a diminishing return in the riff department. Tracks like "Incoming Destiny", "The Hollow" and "Trust in the Fire" all maintain a persistent, if mid-paced thrust akin to By Inheritance, Master of Puppets or Impact is Imminent, but the writing is like a mash of riffs off those albums with almost no memorable patterns of notation. They rarely if ever break out into more than an Exodus chugging gallop, and despite the solidarity, the notes become incredibly predictable, with few fills worth hearing twice. Once in a while, they'll tuck something superior in the depths of a song, like the bridge of "View to Remote" or the chilly leads of "Focus 22", but the album seems to burn out after the first 10 minutes ("Incoming Destiny" and "Arrival of the Gods").

This is really a shame, because those first songs, while not themselves perfect or even close to cult remembrance, hint at a band who are not simply resting on the laurels of what has come before. Sure, you can trace individual riffs back to the sources they were derived from, but it feels like such a fresh coat of paint that just gradually flecks away in the sunlight of the lacking compositional ability. Incoming Destiny is by no means a bad debut album, but it betrays its early lead and falls way back into the middle of the pack. Not much retro stupidity here, and for a brief instant you will feel the same exhilaration you might have felt when hearing bands like Tankard, Exodus and Vendetta in the mid to late 80s, but its passing while not surpassing hinders its durability.

Verdict: Indifference [6.5/10]

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