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REVIEW: Wildspeaker – “Spreading Adder”

Wildspeaker is a 5-piece band from the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas. They play what one would expect to hear if a black metal band and a crust punk band were tossed into a food processor at maximum speed – tortured screams included. Spreading Adder would be their third overall release, and their second full-length album. At 11 songs and 42 minutes, it leans more towards crust punk in terms of pacing but they have the black metal sound: guitar mids boosted and the gain turned way up. It sounds almost like a Boss Metal Zone pedal (legendary for its “holy crow, my guitar sounds like it wants to EAT something” sound) run directly into the console. However, this review will later explain how this was not likely what occurred when Wildspeaker recorded Spreading Adder.

The drums have a similar lo-fi production ethic. Separation and isolation were kept to a minimum here, resulting in a rather “airy” sound. None of this is meant as a criticism, of course. That which tech-death, prog, and deathcore bands and fans would consider substandard is the standard in black metal and crust punk. If anything, Wildspeaker deserve praise for making a digital recording sound like analog hell. As for their playing, Wildspeaker like it fast. They have their mid-tempo moments but they keep the throttle pulled far back.

Wildspeaker start Spreading Adder off with “Apparent Death”, which sets the tone in an atmospheric way; a song clearly written as an album intro. Spreading Adder’s title track and “Elegy” come next, two songs that do little to live up to the promise of “Apparent Death.” They lack the drama, the drive, that little spark of excitement found in that song and the ones that follow. Atmosphere and an evil vibe only go so far.

Things pick up with “Cinders” and its almost purely death metal introduction. Of course, the song blasts into Wildspeaker’s crust-death barrage without delay. “Ecdysis” follows a similar pattern. Wildspeaker seem to have the creative use of feedback down to a science. This presence of feedback negates the aforementioned notion of guitarists playing directly into a console, since feedback usually requires an amp.

“One Sinking Stone” uses the always welcome 3/4 time signature, a black metal staple. As one of Spreading Adder’s slower tracks (at least for the first minute), it relies on pure atmosphere for impact. “Shadow” is similar to “Cinders” and “Ecdysis.”

“Still Life” stands out with its shrill feedback matching the vocalist’s kvlt screams. The song also has a mid-paced groove, making it Spreading Adder’s catchiest and most memorable song.

The last two songs do not, unfortunately, live up to the rest of the album. “Renewal” ends the album anticlimactically, a disappointment when one considers the promise portended by Wildspeaker’s mighty introductions.

Wildspeaker show some skill at combining seemingly divergent styles and at manipulating aesthetics on Spreading Adder. Fans of blackened sounds would do well to pay attention to this band.

 

Score: 6.5/10

Notable Tracks: “Still Life”; “Apparent Death”; “Cinders”; “Ecdysis”

FFO: Castevet, Mayhem, Extreme Noise Terror

Wildspeaker’s Spreading Adder album streams on Bandcamp. Follow the band on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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