European Release Date: 7th September 2013
SpiralArms boast an impressive Bay Area Metal pedigree in the form of guitarist Craig Locicero whose mid-late 80s outfit Forbidden featured Robb Flynn (later of Vio-lence and of course Machine Head) and Paul Bostaph who has filled the drum stool of practically every thrash band ever, including SpiralArms vocalist Tim Narducci's previous band Systematic who were Ozzfest stalwarts in the early Noughties.
Rounded out by Chris Lombardo (bass), Brad Barth (keyboards), Ron Redeen (drums) and Anthony Traslavina (guitar) this sextet have the experience and ability to produce high quality Metal with a strong melodic edge without being shackled to their aforementioned thrash roots.
'Freedom' is SpiralArms' follow up to 2010s debut 'Highest Society' and is a straight-up homage to classic rock and Metal with its Zep and Sabbath influence proudly on it's cut-off sleeve. Riffs are big and bluesy, vocals powerful and choruses soaring, all anchored by a rock solid rhythm section and keyboards used sparingly yet to maximum effect.
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By the band's own admission 'Freedom' is a more straightforward sophomore effort and features a "back to basics" approach and indeed Narducci, also serving as producer, captures a real "live" feel to the songs on offer here as well as delivering some sonic tricks to give colour and effect.
A few people have mentioned the word "Stoner" in relation to the SpiralArms sound and although there are elements of that detuned guitar sound, the combination of all of the collective influences and indeed the players makes for something much more complex than mere "Stoner".
Opener 'Dropping Like Flies' is the lead single and has a driving COC style riff that gets the head banging from the get go. 'Hold Me To The Sky' has a great middle breakdown with some Deep Purple style guitar/keyboard trade offs then a Peter Frampton-esque talkbox call and response.
The bluesy 'Exit 63' showcases Narducci's vocal range and leads into 'Blackmoon Morning' which finds him In Scott Weiland territory over an exotic Zeppelin descending guitar figure.
A double hit comes with 'Drugs & Alcohol' followed by 'Dealer' (although it should be the other way around! - so I'm led to believe anyway!) the former fast and furious the latter woozy and reminds me of a discombobulated search for the Nightbus.
'Lover's Leap' is an acoustic lament for the Scarlet Woman that comes across as a slowed down nod to Skynard's 'Tuesday's Gone' but with an edge of malice replacing the regret. Next up is my personal favourite, 'Tomorrow's Dream', that is cut from the same cloth (cloak?) as Black Sabbath's 'Supernaut' complete with effects-drenched guitar solo.
Title track 'Freedom' is built around a massive chorus that Myles Kennedy would kill for and keyboard player Brad Barth supplies the Joe Cocker swells to keep afloat a festival sized crowd. Closer 'I Lay Low' is a funky mash up of Soundgarden's 'Superunkown' and 'Spoonman' with a Bad Company chorus!
I realise that I've name-checked a LOT of bands in this review and it might come across as if SpiralArms are somehow derivative or devoid of originality but this is not the case. Each song has a definite familiar aspect, be it a guitar hook or vocal nod but yet seems fresh and the album zips by in no time and never feels like it drags it's heels.
SpiralArms were a surprise to me but I am definitely a convert. If you like any of the bands I mentioned check them out! Word has it they will be heading to Europe in the Spring next year so keep your eyes peeled for those dates too.
Release Date Europe: October 7th 2013
Release Date US/Canada: October 8th 2013
Release Date: Germany: October 4th 2013