For anyone in the know, who follows anything I post on The Sleeping Shaman, they will hopefully have checked out my top ten albums of the year last year and will know that the debut Crystal Spiders album, Molt, was at the top of the tree last year. It perfectly encapsulated everything that I look for in captivating heavy music, and the debut was phenomenal.
Back then, I did wonder how they would top that first album. Would it be an advancement, more of the same, or would they bow to more popular ideals? Would it water down their uniqueness in favour of something which would give them a more instant hit, but ultimately lose them some of their preexisting fan base in the process.
Well, twelve months later, I shouldn’t have worried in the slightest, because the comeback album, Morieris, is just as incredible as its predecessor. Its more of the same, and then some.
On this trip out, there’s more of a trio vibe about things. Whereas before, it was the fantastic duo of Brenna Leath and Tradd Yancey, this time Mike Dean, yes, Corrosion Of Conformity’s very own bass wielding monster, has immerged from the shadows, for more of an active involvement this time round. Mike produced the first album, and was actively part of Crystal Spiders, but at the time it was more a duo project. This time Dean has stepped forward, and picked up his guitar again, in the process.
The outcome of this grouping, unsurprisingly, has captured a doomy, scuzzy masterpiece, as Brenna, Tradd, and Mike, steamroll their way into view, and in the process record something which is both captivating, and engaging.
Album opener Morieris swaggers in, with a slow scuzzy tempo. Rumbling bass, intermittent tub thumping, and Brenna’s sultry vocal, as it sets the scene for round two of the Crystal Spiders utopia. Both dark and sinister in equal measure, this bass laden track will have you dying to hear more and will entice you in by its very being. It’s a clear statement, Crystal Spiders are back, and they aren’t taking any prisoners.
It’s scuzzy, driving, and deliciously dirty…
As Septix opens, with its bluesy muted guitar wailing, pounding drums, and Brenna’s demonic bass thundering, its truly captivating. It’s a slab of desert rock goodness and has me drawing comparison with my Dutch compadres Drive By Wire, who have spent much of their legacy in this same dark and mysterious undercurrent. Add to the mix Brenna’s blistering vocal, and it’s a real moment of opulence indeed.
Tracks three, Harness, and four, Offering, seal the deal for me. By the time Harness rumbles in, things have really warmed up, and kicked into overdrive. Each part is thunderous, from Brenna’s vocal, to Tradd’s drum work, and Mike’s guitar. Working in perfect unison, this is like a drive through the desert at a thousand miles an hour. As heavy and focused as it is, there’s also a real playful element. It’s like an outpouring at a jam session, but with added swagger. This track really embraces everything I love about Crystal Spiders, it’s absolutely electric. Offering is as dark as night, menacing as a graveyard, and spooky as fuck. With its driving rhythm, overlaid with pounding drums, and banshee wails, it’s an instant classic. It’s scuzzy, driving, and deliciously dirty.
Both Pandora and En Medias Res continue this thrill ride. One, a driving slab of thunder. An all-out, heart-pounding, no-nonsense, hit of rock and roll. The other, a slow lurching piece, which at over eight minutes long, really pulls on the expectations. After the incredible Maelstrom pulls me back into the fast lane and drops into a sultry stomp, it’s left to album closer Golden Paw to close the show.
As the final track rolls in, there is no sign of Crystal Spiders letting their foot off the gas peddle. Brenna leads the way; her hypnotic tones make it impossible to turn away. The grungy guitar and accompanying skin thumping, take this to a lower level completely, deep down, into the quagmire. Mike’s wailing guitar, deep and dark, against Brenna’s high notes is an absolute joy to behold. And then it’s done.
As follow up albums go, this could have been something which left me feeling like I had heard it all before, and there was nothing new to offer, and in that, it hasn’t happened at all. What has happened is that I now have two truly incredible Crystal Spiders in my collection, which both bring me immense joy.
Thank you, Crystal Spiders, mission accomplished, above and beyond my expectations, wonderful, hypnotic, and thunderous.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish