Reviewed by Rick
Five tracks of acoustic beauty, this EP from Manchester fellows Spires is considerably different from their full-length debut, Spiral of Ascension (2010). I can see why they sent this one my way, it is full of acoustic prog workouts that will surprise and hopefully delight you as it did me. Those of you familiar with the band will know the last track, an unplugged rendering of the 10-minute plus behemoth from their debut. In fact, it is the title track from their debut, and it is absolutely gorgeous. Not just scales or barre chords like you get when folks plug in; we’re talking fills, flourishes, flat-out picking (is that a dobro I hear in there?) and flights of string fancy!
Under Bloodstained Skies, the opener, is a gracefully done, but shorter number. Seems I’m running out of alternatives on the word ‘beauty’, perhaps a Thesaurus is in order! Lucid Abstractions features a soft intro (á la The Doors in their more introspective moments (say, Riders On The Storm), with light drums and some strums. It also features more of the classical flourishes mentioned above on the guitar, and some particularly tortured vocals towards the end.
Perception, meanwhile, includes some flamenco-style fingerpicking. It is a bit darker, almost gloom and doom, when compared to the other selections here. There is also some very cool percussion and strings (mainly violin from the sounds of it). I am reminded of Black Sabbath’s earlier work, when Iommi would insert brief acoustic interludes between tunes (Orchid, Fluff, etc.).
Inevitability is gorgeous, even plaintive and, again, introspective it seems. Some of the tunings and melody reminded me of Saigon Kick‘s “Love Is On the Way“. By the way, in case you were wondering, there are four fine fellows making the music here: Paul Sadler on guitar and vocals, Paul Cuthbert (Nailed, Sermon of Hypocrisy) on guitar, Alex Jolley on bass and Chris Barnard on drums. All of the members put in their fair share of amazing work here. Those of you who are interested in this acoustic tour-de-force but are normally into a bit heavier fare need to check out their debut.