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Spiral - Your Kindness Let A Monster In CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.38 | 6 ratings

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4 stars Suicide, fear, abuse, violence. It's the Spiral holiday album.

"For me, Kindness is probably the most intense listening experience I've had with Spiral. I remember listening to a rough cut of "The Man Who Never Left" late one evening after my wife had gone to bed. The room was completely dark and I came to a point in the song where Chris uses a very strange effect on his voice and whispers "There's only fear outside" over and over. It actually freaked me out. I love it when music works like that." -Aaron Frale, from the ProgArchives interview

"Your Kindness Let a Monster In" seems almost like some creature who willed itself into the Spiral world with ferocity. While the band were working on their epic "The Traveler" in the fall of 2011, they were detoured by this project. They made quick work of it in order to release it on Halloween, as the material was dark and appropriate, thus it became known as the Spiral holiday album. But then something strange happened. The Monster decided it wanted to be more than just a quick thought between "Capital" and "Traveler." It wanted the same love and attention that the RIP trilogy was getting. Like any good parents would do, Aaron and Chris returned their love and attention to the Monster, recording more material and re-recording existing parts. They re-released a new and final version in January 2012. While I never heard the previous version it was undoubtedly a good call to flesh out this work. It harkens back to the "Billy Jensen" album and is another real gem.

"Monster" succeeds so well at capturing the dark lyrical themes contained within. The music feels like it wants to withhold secrets, it gives you clues, but it always feels as if there is something hiding around the corner. It also feels constricting and confining, a monkey clinging to your back, pressuring you to keep your mouth shut if you want to remain alive. And yet it is Spiral in their most adventurous of spirits. While the first two RIP albums are very good they feel more structured and guitar-centric, more jam oriented. Monster has some of that, but like Jensen there is more textural variety, more surprises, more willingness to let the keyboard interrupt the jam for pure sound exploration. There is a great balance of light to heavy in both instruments and vocals. And there is superb flow to the album. It moves along like one sinister character shuffling down the alley, the five tracks all complimenting each other beautifully.

"Sticks and Stones" is fantastic, with forceful parts that build and dissolve into occasional sad melodic bits, especially great is the little guitar solo beginning around 5:50. Love those first chords and how sad they feel. "Jenny" has an elaborate beginning that sounds like Felicia's strings are back but I think this is a keyboard part. Completely ominous keys are joined by this repeating guitar motif that goes on and on. "Father" is the cool short track separating the four longer pieces, it cleanses the palate though doesn't lighten the mood. It features organ and this repetitive, doomy pattern which is very oppressive, then softened just a bit by piano. A fantastic moment! "The Man Who Never Left" captures the isolation and irrational fears of the agoraphobic character, using carefully crafted vocal treatments as mentioned above. Frightening and fascinating. While the comparisons to Jensen are understandable it must be acknowledged that Spiral have increased their sound palette and finesse with this particular venture. The keys, the heavy stoner guitar sound, the intense vocals, the soft interludes, these are the common Spiral ingredients and they are very effective tackling this difficult subject matter. I want to include the following description about the themes of the songs right from the band, as always the storytelling is very integral to the Spiral experience:

"I spent a lot of my childhood in a very small town. This album is my attempt to look back at the way the town worked from a more mature perspective. Everyone was very proud of their hospitality and friendliness, but it seemed like everyone knew some horrid secret about someone else. So and so's son shot himself out in the field (Sticks and Stones (The Suicide Song)) and so on. Also, when someone was strange or different they usually wanted to be left alone, which, of course, made everyone pay more attention to them. The Man Who Never Left is about an agoraphobic. Unfortunately, his fear of the outside world draws the outside world to him. All the local kids stare at him through his windows and ring his doorbell over and over. Jenny Hurts her Little Brother is about an unnatural relationship between a brother and sister living with their abusive father. And finally, when anything truly violent happens in a small town, it quickly passes into the stuff of legend (You Kindness Let a Monster In). I'm sure all of these things (and worse) happen in large cities, but in small towns every oddity, every strange taboo and act of violence is talked about over and over again until it becomes an oral tradition. I wanted to tell these stories like I heard them growing up, full of darkness and fear." -Chris Boat, from the PA interview

I feel no shame in being the resident Spiral fanboy. This is my kind of band, unique and with personality, and "Monster" is a real favorite. And again, another perfect album cover that captures the music.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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