A lot of metal’s subgenres can easily get distracted by trying to be the fastest, the heaviest, lowest, slowest, and whatever else that often can remove the dangerous passions from the music. Some metal bands focus all of their attentions on competing in such a way to turn songwriting into something more akin to playing a sport. Thankfully, Australian black metal band Spire have shown with their debut full length that they are not afraid to take their time both in writing and in execution of their craft. Entropy is not the fastest or the most br00tal, but it is as ominous and unsettling as being in the eye of a hurricane.
The folks in Spire have proven over the last nine years that they are not afraid to take their time musically but also with their release schedule. Since forming in 2007, Spire released a self-titled EP in 2010 and the Metamorph EP in 2011.
*Side note* “Zygote” from the Metamorph EP is one of the most evil sounding tracks I have ever heard. Pick up the pay what you want digital EP here.
Now, almost a full decade after starting the band, Spire have finally summoned their first full length record. Let me tell you, it was worth the wait. With “Entropy,” Spire seem to have fully come into their own. Most of the time on the album is filled with horrific black metal that is played at a doom pace, with howling, moaning, and chanting vocals as often as they are more traditional blackened vocal stylings. With tracks “Void” and “Ends”, Spire show that they can blast away with the best of them. Where the band truly stands out and carves their unholy mark is in the creeping and expansive slow sections. It is as if you were standing in ashes, enveloped in the black smoke of a recently bvrned chvrch and hurling curses at the sky.
Most of the tracks on this album seem to follow a pattern in the rise and fall of the pacing from black ooze to charred blast-furnace, but on the track “(Remake)”, they offer 7 and half minutes ambient guitar noise. While its execution is just fine, it does leave the listener feeling a bit cheated. It is an interesting choice to have almost 8 minutes of ambient noise as one of six tracks on your first full length in 9 years. It sounds great, and I enjoyed it on my first listen through the album. However, I will be skipping the track on every subsequent listen in the future.
The final and closing track is hands-down the best track on the album. Clocking in at over 13 minutes, the band fleshes out each trick from their sack of mystical heathenry. The track builds slowly with murky atmosphere and eventually delivers almost a full song’s worth of frantic black metal before decaying back into the darkened abyss. The track seems to tell the last epic battle of a war between the fast and slow sections of this genre-blending nightmare.
All in all, Spire have managed to live up to the expectations that they have built for themselves in the last nine years. “Entropy” is an adrenaline fueled dash to escape the horrors that chase you before accepting your fate of inevitable doom over and over again. The album does not really tread any new ground, and it may have some fat that could have been trimmed from it. Spire may not be the best at what they do, but they do it well.
— Josh Thieler