Spires are a progressive metal band from Manchester, UK. The creative nucleus is formed by producer/guitarist Paul Sadler and guitarist Paul Cuthbert with Alex Jolley (bass) and Chris Barnard (drums) completing the current line-up. Earlier this month they released their debut album, entitled “Spiral Of Ascension”. Let’s take a closer look.
Paul Cuthbert and Co certainly operate on the melodic and technical side of the metal spectrum. This becomes very clear in the first two songs on “Spiral Of Ascension”. Both ‘Equilibrium’ and ‘The Infinite Descent’ are full of challenging guitar riffs, technical breaks and other progressive wizardry in the best Death, Cynic and Zero Hour tradition. The growled and clean vocals add another layer of diversity to this record.
‘Broken Hourglass’ shows a more jazzy side of Spires. Its adventurous arrangements reminds me a lot of Opeth, albeit a lot more technical. ‘Symmetry’ is a relatively straightforward song built around melodic guitar lines. It’s almost a ballad but without the proverbial layers of cheese surrounding it. ‘Martyr’ and the title track, ‘Spiral Of Ascension’ are more in line with ‘Equilibrium’ and ‘Hourglass’. Both are clear examples of the band’s considerable musical skills.
Their instrumental skills are the album’s ace in the hole, but also its Achilles’ Heel. Especially the longer songs would benefit from a more stripped down approach. A bit more breathing space so to speak. “Crack The Skye” by Mastodon and “Watershed” by Opeth are great examples of what can be achieved when songs are allowed to “breathe” instead of being smothered by countless breaks and guitar solos. Cynic’s “Traced In Air” is another brilliant lesson in how to combine technical skills with spot on song writing.
“Spires Of Ascension” is a solid debut album, but I feel the band have to step up in the song writing department if they really want to take it to the next level. Nonetheless Spires are a valuable addition to the UK progressive scene and “Spires Of Ascension” is well worth taking a listen to if melodic progressive metal is your thing.