Spectral - Arctic Sunrise
Boersma Records
Black / Thrash / Power Metal
9 songs (40' 21")
Release year: 2017
Reviewed by Andy

Ever seen the YouTube video with that guy who tries to fit the history of metal into a single song on his guitar? Now take him and put him in a German band, and you get Spectral, an band that tries to fit black, thrash, power, and Viking folk metal genres together into a single combination. Their latest, Arctic Sunrise, comes off as technically competent, but the alphabet soup of genres and favorite styles often sits together uneasily.

The title track gives the listener the feeling that it's going to be black metal, and it does have a lot of it, but with those melodic power riffs that Mithotyn did, and the rhythm changes that band liked to do too. Lead vocalist Vidar has a smooth growl that is fairly intelligible, with Teutonlord supplying a deeper, more hollow growl in the lower ranges. The instruments are equally well-produced -- this is a band that relies on a fast, clean attack than noisy dissonance. The black metal influence hangs over everything, but the lyrics are often more thrash-driven: Songs of alien invasion and nuclear war get equal airtime with Viking battle songs.

It has to be said, though, that for all their nice production and reasonably good musicianship, the songs aren't terribly memorable. So many influences get packed into the album that it's next to impossible to hear an original thought out of Arctic Sunrise. If Spectral concentrated on being good at one of the many things they try to be, rather than trying to tackle everything, it would probably have less mediocre results, although they don't do anything poorly enough to make the listener unhappy. In Battle With Fire & Steel's thunderous drumming comes as a welcome surprise after some of the more by-the-numbers blackened thrash songs, and Path of the Damned, that I was sure would become dreary quite quickly, speeds up to make for an energetic traditional heavy metal song. The last one, Fuck Off and Die, is the only serious misstep. A gang-chorused number with a simple mid-tempo beat, it's obviously designed for use with a crowd, complete with convenient spaces for fans to sing along, but on an already uninteresting album, a song like this isn't exactly one to get excited about.

That Youtube "metal history" guy is good for a four-minute listen, but no one asked him to make an album of similar songs; viewers just message it to their friends, click the next video, and watch a cat doing something that is no doubt hilarious. It's a lesson Spectral might keep in mind. With so many genres to play in and so little content, Arctic Sunrise may leave a lot of listeners cold.

Killing Songs :
In Battle With Fire & Steel
Andy quoted 65 / 100
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