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4 stars Spiderland is one of those cds which you like and yet you don't know why! I am really into prog and post-rock and I deeply enjoy bands like Tortoise and even The For Carnation.

This cd has some punkish tracks that don't really amuse me but it also has tracks that I like to think of as master pieces. Washer is a totally awesome track to my taste.

People who like post-rock must have this cd, you will find loving it overall

Report this review (#87810)
Posted Monday, August 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars It was about time that this band was registered on this site. With one of the sub-genres being post-rock, these guys are the founders of post-rock. And this album is the most essential post-rock album on the planet.Every one of the six songs on here is just pure brilliance, with the absolute climax the last song 'Good Morning, Captain'.

You have to listen to it a couple of times to really get in to this album. At first listen you probably will not notice the perfection of the very subtle guitar parts, and the whispered vocals which give me shivers down my spine every time i hear them.

This is really a five-star album, one of the best in my collection, and i am not even a big post-rock fan. Everyone who is interested in music and likes subtle, soft and sometimes exploding music (is that the definition of post-rock??) should own this one.

Report this review (#87821)
Posted Monday, August 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Although very overlooked when they made this record, it's the most influential record for the post-rock genre ever. It's namely one of, if not the first post-rock record ever. But nevermind the album's influence and its cult status! Is the music actually good and is the album actually worthy of the praise it gets? Yes is the answer, it's really f*cking good.

Slint has one of the creepiest styles in music ever. The guitar is there, only to make simple eerie riffs and weird complementing high noises which suit the music perfectly. The vocals whisper most of the time but when the crescendo hits the songs they are hard, he literally screams at the heavy points. The song all consist of very recognisable riffs with the eerie spoken/whispering vocals. The lyrics do a great job making the songs even sadder and creepier.

I can't really explain why but listening to this album has to be one of the saddest and still most pleasant experiences ever. The music really grabs you and takes you somewhere. It's very simple but just good. So I'd say very recommended album.

written for

Report this review (#89399)
Posted Sunday, September 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Spiderland is one of the most acclaimed underground albuns of the 90's. It is considered by the critics as THE FIRST TRUE POST-ROCK ALBUM, which opened doors to a great progression in music, reinventing rock without leaving its main ideas behind. The great merit of the band was the creation of a constellation of minimalistic incursions while transmitting several kinds of depressive feelings at their magnificiency. Brian McMahan's voice varied between grunge-like screams, delicate whispering and (more frequent) narrating voice, helping to create that sublime deep effect. In fact, the album is very intense, sometimes seeming to reach the almost-suicidal state of depression. There are even rumours saying that some of the band's members had to be ocasionally institutionalized during the album sessions.

The album flows as if Brian McMahan was narrating a story whose final we can guess it is not going to be happy. It contains all the disturbed aspects of adolescent existence, functioning almost as a Freud trip to their cores, as the album has a very intimistic approach and the band members were simple kids (!) at the time. The first two tracks are the less depressive of the badge. Guitar interplay distortion in the opener track creates a strange and original effect. The album flows in a crescendo pain to its cathartic final. Indeed, the last track, "Good Morning Captain" is the album at its peak, their most known track, dealing with the loss of all of our friends in a terrible event, in a soft age. The combination of delicate minimalistic double-guitar aproach with the disturbing narration recreate perfectely such ambience, until the final explosion, the feeled scream "I'm in hell, i'm in hell, I miss you...". "Don, Aman" deals with the conscience of difference in a world of copied patterns and the terrible effects it may have to a self-questioning young man. In "Washer" the band creates a very depressive atmosphere with the subtle guitar lines, and it functions as a goodbye, taking epic contourns, as the author knew the inevitableness of the end, the terrible fate he could not avoid.

An historical album. It may be hard to believe how a group of 4 kids had such a visionary construction of rock, opening doors to bands like GY!BE, Explosions in the Sky, Tortoise, well, all the post-rock scene. An answer that certainly lies between the disturbed adolescent psychism.

Report this review (#104417)
Posted Monday, December 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I had hard times trying to find this album. Most Prog sources weren’t aware of it, and finally I got it (on CD, I mean; I already had a mp3 copy ;) ) from a friend of mine who’s into Alternative and Grunge. Not far from true, to be honest. In few words, imagine Kurt Cobain’s NIRVANA goes Post-Rock. Few quirky signatures, but most of time it sounds like an addict’s lullaby. NIRVANA even had a song of that kind – “Gallons of Rubbing Alcohol…”, don’t remember the full name. You may confuse that track with SLINT’s one. I like NIRVANA still, though days of my childhood when I thought I was a punk, are away now. The thing is that SLINT didn’t step over my expectations – I got exactly what I thought of them. A bit disappointing experience, but worthy of checking, if you’re into Grunge or just wonder, how Post-Rock has begun.
Report this review (#131818)
Posted Sunday, August 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Where it all started...

Slint became famous only years after their split up, but finally they have been recognized as the founders of the post-rock movement, that had his true development from 2000 to now. "Spiderland" is not easy to listen, but it is still really original and introspective. Don't miss it, if you want to know the roots that gave birth to GYBE!, Mogwai, Sigur Ros etc.

5/5, above all for its historical value.

Report this review (#146773)
Posted Wednesday, October 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I might never have heard of this acclaimed but now defunct Kentucky quartet if they weren't featured here at Prog Archives. But after absorbing all the hype about the "unparalleled impact" of this supposed proto-Post Rock/Math Rock masterpiece, listening to the actual album was, quite frankly, an underwhelming experience. But then again, perhaps that's exactly what the band had in mind.

The music itself is often haunting in a spare, stripped-down sort of way. But if this is Math Rock, it's more on the level of a grade school primer, with time signatures stretching to odd meters of five or seven but never to anything more complicated (in other words: Henry Cow, they ain't).

Instead, it's the austere anti-Prog simplicity that makes the album so appealing, sounding like an impeccably produced garage band from backwoods Appalachia rehearsing on a dreary late autumn afternoon. The slowly strummed guitars erupt only occasionally onto fuzzed-out feedback, and the tentative vocals are typically heard in half-muttered spoken-word narratives, so quietly miked it's difficult to catch the actual words.

The album was released in 1991, and the band broke up soon afterward. No surprise there: the stark minimalism of their monochrome style was never very durable, and in the 40-some minutes of this one album the group all but exhausted its entire musical vocabulary.

Still, give them credit for being ahead of their time. The half dozen songs here evoke an almost palpable mood of inertia and melancholy better suited to our own collapsing 21st century economy, making the album the perfect soundtrack for times of quiet desperation.

Report this review (#167032)
Posted Monday, April 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Pushing the boundaries of rock music without resorting to non-rock instrumentation and classical or jazzy influences. That's post-rock at is purest. This is what started it all. The humongous list of brilliant bands that would never have existed if it weren't for Slint is reason enough to cherish this album. That reason isn't needed.

Slint's Spiderland is evocative, emotional, and drove the depth of rock further than any non-prog band ever did, let alone the noise-rock scene from which is emerged. We are probably cheating by classifying math rock and post-rock as prog.

Using simple rock instrumentation, a droning bass, extremely careful use of dynamics, holding back rock's rough power in exchange for tension, Slint takes you on an emotional journey with their spoken, often whispered vocals and imaginitive stories. Good Morning Captain, their variation on the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, is the culmination of this, slowly building up tension in a bone-chilling atmosphere. If you're not breathless by the time this album ends, you probably don't have a soul.

Report this review (#201217)
Posted Saturday, January 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Slint is one of the few bands that is depressingly obscure. SPIDERLAND is almost like THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO of the 1990's. Few people bought it, but it still had a wide ranging influence on experimental rock throughout the '90s and into this century. Slint really sound like NOBODY else in the music business then or now. Their combination of spoken/whispered/screamed vocals, dissonant guitar melodies, and off-kilter rhythmic changes is something so unique it can't, and shouldn't, be mimicked. The atmosphere of this album is dark, quiet, and extremely unsettling. Brian McMahan's vocal delivery is one of the main aspects that contributes to this doom-laden mood. Just listen to the songs "Don, Aman" and "Good Morning, Capitain" and you'll be scared s**tless! David Pajo's guitar genius cannot be overstated, as he has a unique style that permeates this album (those high, tapped-string notes on "Breadcrumb Trail" and "Nosferatu Man" are so cool)! Perhaps the most underrated of all the musicians on this album is drummer Britt Walford. He has a drumming style that combines the technicality and looseness of jazz drummers such as Elvin Jones with the sheer muscular force of hard rock, paving the way for drummers like Damon Che. SPIDERLAND is a wonderfully strange and creepy album full of musical surprises that jump out from the eerie silence--much like a musical haunted house. Higlights include: "Breadcrumb Trail," "Washer," and "Good Morning, Captain." GRADE: A (94%)
Report this review (#214737)
Posted Sunday, May 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Calling this the album the backbone of the post rock-movement wouldn't be enough since Spiderland has much more to offer than just the blueprint. Instead it actually creates the first original masterpiece of the genre, at least if we don't count Talk Talk's Spirit Of Eden.

I'm probably one of the few people who actually feels underwhelmed by Good Morning, Captain, but that's only in comparison to the other highlights! Nosferatu Man sounds like a product of the Grunge-era, but it still manages to surpass its genre limitations and create something that has not been done before. Just the mere fact that this track has a groove puts it over most material that the Seattle based bands could offer at the time. The definite stand-out track for me here is Washer which is a truly gorgeous composition. The track offers a pretty simple development pattern, but yet there is so power embedded into this 9 minute performance. If you have any doubts about purchasing the whole album then you can at least do yourself a favor by purchasing this one track off a digital download website of your choice.

This album is essential for fans of post-rock and an excellent addition to any rock music collection!

***** star songs: Nosferatu Man (5:34) Washer (8:50)

**** star songs: Breadcrumb Trail (5:55) Don, Aman (6:28) For Dinner... (5:05) Good Morning, Captain (7:39)

Report this review (#258039)
Posted Sunday, December 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
2 stars Funny note for the starters, "Slint" means "to produce saliva" in Czech, so it's rather hard not to laugh when hearing this music. Not that it matters at all. Next thing that is there (just for the record) is that I don't like spiders. And this music is creepy one, same as them. Maybe one of the first Post-Rock efforts and I appreciate that. But this music is so uninteresting. Every P-R band after this one does it better, not so terribly. There's something in their sound that I can't simply stand and makes me nauseous and nervous, checking the time all the time. And it sounds the same all the time. The same applies to a lot of Post-Rock albums too, but it's not so prominent. This music is dead and void, like long forgotten carcass. Or tomb.

2(+), but remember, there's historical value in this release.

Report this review (#272989)
Posted Friday, March 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Unlike many, I don't consider "Spiderland" post rock, but I do consider it probably the most influential album on the genre. Sort of like Velvet Underground's first album is to Punk. See this album does in fact "Rock" at times, helping to make it the classic it is. The album is name checked all the time by post rock fans. Possibly more than even heard it. It was hugely influential on Tortoise, Mogwai and Godspeed You Black Emperor just to name a few. The long morose pieces with a simmering hardcore punk underbelly make you wonder why nobody really thought of this sound/approach before. Its not Prog, its more like a glum punk rock band trying to play their own versions of Prog inspired extended mood pieces, and they somehow came up with a classic!
Report this review (#273756)
Posted Tuesday, March 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Whenever I think about who invented post-rock, two bands come to mind. Talk Talk, known much better as a synth-pop band when they miraculously started making the exact opposite of the music they were known for with their Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock released, is one of those bands. The other is Slint, who underwent just as miraculous of a change, moving from post-hardcore to this difficult to classify piece of work. Is it post-rock? Not really. But like The Velvet Underground did with several genres, they were a spark that helped set the flame for the birth of it.

Let's forget about influence and importance though. Is this album good? Well I'd say it's much more than that. I've really never heard an album that sounded quite like this one. Much of the vocals are made up of spoken word that tells a story. It really adds to a creepy, tense atmosphere found throughout the album. The guitar riffs really fit the albums title, as I find them to have a "spider-y" feel to them. And of course, as with any good post-rock (or in this case, post-rockish) album, there is a great use of dynamics capable of sending chills down your spine at every turn.

So while this album does carry a very similar feel throughout, it's executed in different and new ways each song. "Washer" is a soothing track built around a drifting guitar riff. "Breadcrumb Trainer" is the most rocker like track on the album, but still carries the vibe the album is known for. Good Morning Captain is the one pure post rock song on the album. It still contains vocals which isn't a staple of the genre, but the whole song has pretty, but not melodic guitar sections that eventually builds into a chaos of "I miss you!!!". The best on the album, and very well executed climax.

If you're interested in dissecting post-rock to it's roots, there's no way you can not have this in your collection. A wonderful and inventive album that the genre owes so much to. A masterpiece in my eyes.

Report this review (#867586)
Posted Tuesday, November 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars It can take me hours, if not days, to even prepare to listen to Spiderland. The emotional burden it places on the listener is almost unfair, and devastating. Every song is a succinct masterpiece unto itself; the bleak, shadowy space each creates is a voluminous cavern into which the air is sucked and spit back out as vitriol. Spiderland is ugly, beautiful, scary, redemptive and exhausting. It inspired countless bands and an entire genre of music. It exists on an island. Nothing ever before, and nothing ever since, sounds exactly like Spiderland.

Considering the rock music landscape of 1991, Slint never should have lasted as long as they did. Grunge was being crowned king, and Nirvana was heir apparent; Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Soundgarden all released seminal albums. Slint never had a chance. The Kentucky quartet was a blip on the radar, too far removed from the angst and major-label publicity of the Seattle scene. Growing up as a teenager in southern Indiana, I know exactly what it felt like to be a Midwestern kid in the early nineties. Bands like Nirvana were like a breath of fresh air, a perfect distillation of disillusion and antiestablishmentarianism wrapped up in a convenient, portion-controlled package. If you had played Spiderland for me in 1991, not only would it have not blown my mind, but would have been immediately discarded and disregarded. Music was not ready for Slint in 1991, and they broke up. A couple of years later, guitarist David Pajo joined a band called Tortoise. Their 1996 release Millions Now Living Will Never Die became a critical addition to the Post-Rock canon, a newly-dubbed genre that would not have been possible without Slint's contribution.

"Breadcrumb Trail" alternates between bars of three and four with jangly, solid-state aplomb. Artificial harmonics rattle and hum, Pajo hits the distortion pedal, and singer Brian McMahan's whispery voice cries out for help. Britt Walford leads "Nosferatu Man" with rimshots and stick clicks, applying cymbals only when absolutely necessary. The drummer's greatest contribution comes from his composition "Don, Aman" and its hauntingly accurate depiction of social anxiety disorder. Again the guitars crunch and moan but the drums never kick in. Any closure or payoff goes unanswered. You flip the record over, almost terrified to hear what comes next, and "Washer" soothes you momentarily. Then McMahan sings "Good night, my love...remember me as you fall to sleep" and you realize the nightmare has only just begun. "For Dinner" builds tension like a 2-liter bottle of soda being shook up. "Good Morning, Captain" takes the now rigidly tight bottle and slowly unscrews the cap, as uncomfortable anxiety gives way to catharsis. You flip the record back over, and listen to the whole thing again. Spiderland is an essential masterpiece of rock music.

Report this review (#920942)
Posted Thursday, February 28, 2013 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
3 stars The critically acclaimed mother of all things post-rock does indeed seem to be the first successor to Talk Talk's later albums that layed down the foundation for the subgenre of rock to blossom although it was clearly heavily influenced by other dronological bands like The Velvet Underground who had already tapped into the sound in the 60s. The band's 2nd album SPIDERLAND went virtually unnoticed at the time and the band would break up soon after its release, yet for those who heard it they were truly inspired and through sheer influence alone this album has gained a steadily growing popularity in the underground world since its release.

It is interesting to hear just which parts influenced different post-rock acts that followed. The opener "Breadcrumb Trail" and its Godspeed! You Black Emperor narrations and the slower songs being heavily influential for Toby Driver's Maudlin Of The Well and Kayo Dot projects. Although I don't love this album as much as others simply because I find the vocals a bit weak in the screaming department and way too much talking instead of some kind of singing, I do recognize this as the landmark historically important album for what it is and I do kinda like the music which is mostly a punkish dissonance with a reggae kind of syncopation for a lot of the more upbeat tracks whilst the slower tracks are pure ambient riffing and atmospheric generators. Worth having alone for the mark it's made on the musical world but I can't say I enjoy listening to this on a regular basis. 3.5 rounded down

Report this review (#1203716)
Posted Wednesday, July 2, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars A classic. This album is a freakin' classic. How four young students did this masterpiece ? I can't answer to this question. Nobody. But everybody agree that the album is one of the first (and best) album of post-rock, that the album is one of the most powerful and disturbing albums ever, and that the album is near perfection. From the harmonics intro of Breadcrumb Trail to the apocalyptic Good Morning Captain, all the songs (in fact, there's only 6 songs for a total time of 40 minutes) are excellent in their own way, with always this moment when after a big ramp up, the music take your guts with a explosive riffs and this screaming voice. In the top 100 of every rock music list for sure.
Report this review (#1331987)
Posted Wednesday, December 31, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm a bit surprised to see Slint categorised as "Prog Related" rather than "Post-Rock/Math Rock" since Spiderland is commonly recognised as being essential to the foundations of both genres. It'd be a bit like categorising the Moody Blues as prog-related - sure, they may not be as pure an example of the genre as some of the acts that followed later, but it arguably wouldn't even exist or at least sound the same without them.

All that said, Spiderland is a bit unusual an example of both genres, since it was created when the sound of each hadn't been thoroughly codified. Most of the album is based in subdued, melancholic guitar rock with uneasy spoken narrations over them that occasionally, though briefly, build into tormented screams. The songs shift meter signatures frequently, with the first two songs in particular using at least five time signatures each and shifting between them rapidly; it's easy to see how the genre of "math rock" got its name. "Washer" is the only song whose vocals are mostly sung, and it's perhaps unsurprisingly the most melancholy piece here, being a lengthy rumination on sleep and death. These are two themes that seem to underpin the entire album; the whole album has an eerie, dreamlike quality that only unsettles more as the album pushes towards its climax.

That climax comes with "Good Morning, Captain", a piece inspired by Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. While the whole album has been a bit unsettling to this point, "Good Morning" takes this to a new level, with the entire song based around a dissonant chord pattern and climaxing in the most tortured screams on the whole record (and, arguably, some of the most unsettling in the history of rock music). It's said that some of the band members had to be institutionalised after they completed the recording process (which was accomplished in a marathon four-day session); in particular, vocalist Brian McMahon's screams on "Good Morning" are said to have contributed to this.

Much has been written about the album's sound, but it's worth taking a look at the album's lyrics as well. Firstly, there is an underlying subtext of sleep and dreams to the album's songs: Don in "Don, Aman" makes the momentous decision that concludes the song after sleep; "Washer" touches on the sanctuary of sleep and yet also the fear of losing things within sleep; the narrative focus of many of the songs takes on the atmosphere of a dream.

Perhaps more important to the album's musical subtext, though, is the undercurrent of horror and trauma. The album tends to be sparse on narrative detail, written as though a listener is already familiar with the locales in which the songs are set - which, of course, we are not. This lets us focus more on the events described in the songs, but these, too, are often sparse on detail. Even the opening "Breadcrumb Trail", which on its surface is a description of a romantic meeting between its unnamed narrator and a fortune-teller, is written in a way that unsettles a listener slightly. Psychologists have noted that victims of trauma often elide both foundational context and the horrifying truth of the trauma itself, and the song itself, with its supporting cast of the "soiled" and grotesque, certainly makes us feel as though we have been made party to some fundamental revelation, yet the revelation itself is never made clear.

This continues throughout the album, as most of songs conclude with a momentous event that is never actually described. The queen in "Nosferatu Man" dies, but we never find out how (though it's implied through vampirism); Don in "Don, Aman" makes a momentous decision, but we never find out what; the captain of "Good Morning, Captain" appears to be fleeing some Lovecraftian horror, but the horror is never described. The entire album has an undercurrent of Gothic horror, and the fact that its narration is so sparse on details makes it more unsettling, not less; the songs wouldn't be nearly as effective without their lyrical content.

It's difficult to look at the album now divorced from its historical context. The fact that Slint broke up shortly after making this recording no doubt further contributes to its mystique (despite planning to go on tour and even having a notice saying that interested female vocalists should contact the band). They have reunited sporadically since then and have hinted that some day they may produce new material; they have even performed new songs occasionally, but thus far this remains Slint's final studio album. Even if they never record another note of music, their legacy will have been secured with this album.

Report this review (#1353243)
Posted Sunday, January 25, 2015 | Review Permalink
Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars I think this album is one of the ultimate artistic reflections of pain and darkness and decay, of both the band themselves, suffering through grueling recording sessions that drove them to the point of nervous breakdown, and of the environment that the band was in, the dirty and dying sides of Louisville. It is not just the second genesis of post rock, but in emotion and genre blending and art-from-adversity a true masterpiece and in its genre as unique a document as Talk Talk's two post defining albums.

"Tweez" in '89 showed a promising post-hardcore band through their fierce early math punk, but they suddenly decided to slow things down, hold fury back, and sprawl in a way never done before. They took an important early thread of the aptly named slowcore movement, that of a lethargic rock band who wasn't afraid to suddenly catapult into pitch and rage (see also Codeine's classic "Frigid Stars LP"), and did two now legendary things with this style and formula: one was to contort the slow side into something drawn out and more textural than riffy, perhaps also a corruption of "Spirit of Eden"'s guitar lines; and using what was left in them of their hardcore math for the rage moments. This of course proved doubly genre defining and makes for a depressedly beautiful and smashing record. Especially vital to this new form was also how sheerly angular it was, making everything about it in at least some small way connected to math with it's irregular time signatures in a way lost on most later post, similar to them also leaving Talk Talk's fusion side behind.

In spite of minimal takes during the sessions, the whole process proved brutal, refreshing as it was to the band themselves to hear their new sound, likely encouraging the particular atmosphere of the tracks. As well, due to this and not having written any lyrics beforehand, during the original compositional process, the band quickly threw together some suitably dark lyrics in the studio that were mainly spoken word; this proved the final piece of the puzzle, the last element to pull everything together, to make tracks like "Breadcrumb Trail" so immediately gripping and undeniably brilliant. The result is massively influential and the ultimate soundtrack to desolate countrysides and dying cities, a brilliantly formed and excellently played magnum opus.

Report this review (#1476961)
Posted Sunday, October 18, 2015 | Review Permalink

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