Spelljammer – Abyssal Trip
RidingEasyRecords (UsThem Group, Palmer Turner Overdrive)
Release date: 26/02/2021
Running time: 44 minutes
Review by: Alun Jones
A slow build of distortion, punctuated by air raid sirens, heralds the onslaught of “Bellweather”, the first track on the latest Spelljammer opus. These guys are in no rush. Instead, the listener sinks slowly into the mire, as first guitars and bass, then drums, stealthily enter. Over the course of six plus minutes, the track builds beautifully, setting the style for the album to follow.
Spelljammer are from Stockholm, Sweden – and comprise Niklas Olsson (bass and vocals); Robert Sörling (guitar) and Jonatan Rimsbo (drums). It’s been five long years since their last album, but now they’re back with a huge, ponderous collection of sludgy, doom laden music.
Second track, “Lake”, follows the hypnotic incline of the opener with a brutal riff and throaty vocals, before descending into a medium paced headbanger. This track nicely encapsulates the contrasts between heavy, thunderous ferociousness and trancelike wonderment.
The band composed these songs in the seclusion of a remote house in the country. The various shifting sections of the songs obviously reflect that concentrated effort, with a perfect ebb and flow. Sections wind intricately between the monstrous and the calm.
“Among the Holy” starts with a creeping pace before erupting into the album’s biggest rocker. The title track opens with a sample from some obscure horror movie, and I need to know which! After that, it’s crawling doom which picks up speed a little in a Sabbathy manner – complete with distorted vocals.
Talking of Sabbath, “Peregrin” feels like one of those Tony Iommi instrumentals on “Master of Reality”. It’s actually quite wonderful. Finally, “Silent Rift” is over ten minutes of all that’s gone before, ramped up even higher. The pace is slow, there’s no haste, Spelljammer take their time and let the music grow and breathe.
The listener will also need to take their time and truly absorb this album. Stick on your ear goggles, turn the lights down low and bask in the inventiveness. “Abyssal Trip” is a record that’s been carefully composed and nurtured. The enjoyment here is in the journey and all its interwoven elements.
As we’re talking of jam, I’m reminded of an episode with my old Black Sabbath mates. We were at legendary Rockfield studios in Wales, and following a late night in the studio and an even later nights boozing, the band were relaxing on the lawns on a gorgeous summer day. Bill fell asleep on the grass, and Ozzy decided to take the remains of the strawberry jam from breakfast and smear it all over Bill’s beard. Sure enough, ten minutes later, Bill woke with a scream – brushing wasps from his face. He jumped up and ran to a nearby pond, jumping in face first. When he emerged, Bill looked like a Sasquatch. He spent days rubbing ointment on his face and was finding dead insects in his beard for ages.
This review was brought to you by Platinum Al in association with Ever Metal.