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Spiritu : Human Failures

It's been years since we've seen those classic desert splits by Nebula & Lowrider, Unida & Dozer that MeteorCity once put out. Even now any connoisseur of heavy tuneage must count those slabs o' goodness among their favorites. Evidently, however, the label felt it was time for an update, time to regain that spirit while updating the concept by showcasing a veteran band with a new one, one that puts a new slant on the meaning of the "MeteorCity sound".

First off is label vet Spiritu, whose full-length debuted back in '02. The band has been active only intermittently since then, but now they're finally back, and producing their best work. Don't get me wrong: their previous disc, with several songs over nine minutes, was a stoner/doom favorite a few years back. Evoking classic influences from 'Zep' to 'Sabbath to 'Maiden, they were characterized - not inaccurately - as a kind of "desert Abdullah". This time around they're leaner, with a sound that trims the fat while projecting a more mature vibe. Don't worry though, 'cause that distorted heaviness, incorporating classic sounds old and new, is still in the driver's seat. 'Ten of Seven Bell' is a melodic sledgehammer, featuring Jadd's high, classic Cornell-ish vocals. If you can have an album of the year, you surely can have a song of the year, right? Last year it was the leadoff tune on Earthride's 'Vampire Circus'; this year it's Spiritu's 'Object of Desire', IMO alone worth the price of the disc. It's memorable riffage and leads are pure hellish power, causing almost involuntary endorphin surges that will leave you grinning. 'Latitude' has ghostly vocals not unlike the mighty Dax Riggs, while 'Throwback' is just that, with Solace-like heavy riffing that most easily recalls the Spiritu of yore.

The first half of this split will make you comfortable, hammering your lobes with that patented "MeteorCity sound". But, as the man says... And Now For Something Completely Different. As the Burroughsian group name implies, Village of Dead Roads is more about frozen, bleak soundscapes than it is about mota-enhanced, sun-drenched, desert tuneage. 'Descendents of the Dendrits' (nice title, that) starts you out on solid ground, with 'Sabbath-like riffing and pounding power enhanced by aggressive, sludgy singing alternating with clean vocals reminiscent of... Abdullah! There's that name again! But we're not just talking about those talented Ohio doomsters, 'cause VoDR.'s music more than anything else sounds angular and jagged; fans of ISIS, Warhorse, Cable, YOB, and Ramesses might as well get their wallets out now. 'Skin Prison' is up next: with its clean vocals and music that is by turns atmospheric and pummeling, is my favorite of the four VoDR. tunes on this split. 'Woman of Ill Repute', an ugly tale of sexual torture, has big riffs with subtle shades of Entombed, and the disc ends with the monolithic 'Divine Mistake', enhanced with tempo changes and a long feedback outro.

Yeah, Village of Dead Roads stomps all over your expectations of exactly what the "MeteorCity sound" means. But there's no doubt that the MeteorCity love of quality tuneage is still there, and in spades. The flow of music is not the same as it was when two desert bands were roped together on one disc. No, this time around the flow is in the variety, from rocking and fuzz-soaked to aggressive and asphyxiating. It works better than you might think. It's wonderful to think that, barely a week into 2006, we've already got a keeper.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. The Ten of Seven Bell
2. Objects of Desire
3. Latitude
4. Throwback

Village of Dead Roads:
5. Descendants of the Dendrites
6. Skin Prison
7. Woman of Ill Repute
8. Divine Mistake

Duration : Approx. 53 minutes.

Visit the Spiritu bandpage.

Reviewed on ??-??-???? by Kevin McHugh
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