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Albums | Spotlights - Alchemy For The Dead

Dit trio rond het koppel Quintero doet al een klein decennium hun ding, maar kruiste pas nu mijn pad met full album nummer vier. Alchemy For The Dead laat een interessante kruisbestuiving horen tussen post rock en shoegaze, gekruid met een snuif doom, grunge en zelfs wat industrial. Zwevende vocals drijven boven zwaar vervormde gitaren en repetitieve drumpatronen. Keyboards leggen subtiele accenten en/of creëren donkere, maar soms ook vrij luchtige, soundscapes. Het hele album balanceert tussen licht en duisternis en heeft als de dood als thema: zowel het pijnlijke, mysterieuze als verlossende ervan.

Ik verwijs graag naar andere bands die in me opkomen als referentie, simpelweg omdat ik daar als tiener zelf nood aan had. Ik had geen nood aan woordspelletjes of gewichtige taalkunstenaarij, nope, ik wilde gewoon weten in welk vakje ik een band kon proppen - wat nu helemaal niet meer vanzelfsprekend is - én met wie ik een band kon vergelijken.

Wel, ik denk bij dit album aan zowel Soundgarden, Slow Crush, Big|Brave als NIN.

Leuke extra's: Ben Opie leent zijn tenorsax uit op het stuwende False Gods en afsluiten doen ze met het semi-akoestische titelnummer dat weliswaar in de laatste minuten 'zwaar' van koers wijzigt.

Van zodra ik de tijd vind, graaf ik in de backcatalogue.

Releasedatum: 28 april 2023



If you don’t know who Spotlights are, or haven’t heard their name, then you haven’t been paying attention. Mario, Sarah and Chris are one of the hardest working new bands out there - plugging away on tour after tour, earning every fan they have, whether its Chino Moreno, or the bartender at a local club. During 2016, the group gained traction with their debut album, Tidals, earning coveted spots on tours with Deftones (we did say Chino is a fan), and Refused. Not long after, they caught the attention of Ipecac Recordings, releasing Seismic in 2017, touring relentlessly (again, enjoying word of mouth amongst musicians to land outings with the Mr. Bungle, Quicksand, Pallbearer, etc) and worked right into the studio, releasing Love & Decay in 2019. Consequence praised their “unique amalgam of sounds that is both heavy and heavenly,” Brooklyn Vegan said the band balances the pretty with metallic sludge, and Invisible Oranges said the album “leans on the ambient and krautrock inspired edges of post-metal.” In the wake of their 2020 EP We Are All Atomic, Kerrang! observed, “That a band as heavy and romantic as Spotlights have become a fixture in the rock scene Is impressive; that they’ve done so in such a short period of time is tremendous.”

Late last year, the musicians began to carefully piece together what would become Alchemy For The Dead. For the first time, Spotlights recorded in the basement of the Pittsburgh home where Mario and Sarah now reside. With Mario at the helm for production once more, they clung to an ethos that he describes as “don’t do the same thing again”— and they made good on that ambition.

“I had a sound in my head,” he admits. “It was a little punchier rather than being so open. It’s still big, but it’s tight. A lot of this can be attributed to the basement itself. It’s a tiny room with a seven-foot ceiling. The sound you get is tight and controlled. We tried to accentuate the space.”

Siphoning the claustrophobia of their surroundings into a definitive vision, propulsive percussion drives the first single “Algorithmic.” The bass groans and grunts beneath strains of ethereal keys and guitars. Meanwhile, barely repressed intensity spills over on to a turbulent distorted riff offset by melodic high-register harmonies as Mario promises, “It won’t be long,” and Sarah counters, “You’ll learn as you go away”.

“For me, the song has a religious theme to it,” he says. “It touches on the story of resurrection and afterlife in this one narrative, while wondering, does any of it really fucking matter?”

Then, there’s “Sunset Burial.” Crossing the six-minute mark, a tense bass line trudges through an orchestral hum and a head-nodding drumbeat. Otherworldly percussive flourishes shudder as the fits of distortion shake another hypnotic hook.

“There’s a lot of space,” Mario continues. “But it doesn’t just stick to massive riffs the whole time. Lyrically, it’s a darker, self-reflective story about what goes through our minds while waiting to die.”

“The Alchemist” represents a creative shift. The incessant beeping mirrors life support equipment as the airy vocals practically stalk an uncontainable bass-and-drum rhythm. This chase slips into the undertow of fuzzy feedback.

“It was probably the first track to encapsulate what I wanted sonically for the album. Bigger and fatter upfront tones, and unique drum sounds.” he reveals. “It sparked the initial vibe of the album. It’s a loose take on the old Frankenstein story. A story about a maniac luring people to their death, so he can reanimate them in hopes of finding his true love."

In the end, Spotlights only cement their own niche with a vision like no other.

“If you’re an artist, I hope our music inspires you to make art and push the envelope,” he leaves off. “If you’re not, I hope it inspires you to think differently, and get your mind off the day-to-day bullshit. Even though the themes might seem morbid and dark, as always we hope our music creates positivity. We all need to care for one another and all living beings on this planet, while we can.”


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