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Review by Dave Smiles
The Spiral Sequence is a solo project from multi-instrumentalist James O’Toole, who hails from Melbourne in Australia. All the song-writing, performances, recording, mixing and artwork were done by O’Toole, the only thing he didn’t do was the final mastering of the album, which might be a good thing. There’s always the danger of being too close to your work.
It’s impressive that one man has created an album that could be considered the soundtrack to the apocalypse, but when you add to it an astute social commentary, anthems for the working class and some mysticism as well you have an album the ‘thinking man’ can sink his teeth into.
The name The Spiral Sequence comes from the Fibonacci sequence and along with his lyrics show O’Toole is educated and motivated to use his music to inspire people to seek out answers.
The ten tracks that make up Through Shadow Into Light fuse alternative, metal and experimental music and provides a unique sound within the metal genre. At times taking the brutality of Slayer, at others the haunting moods of Mercyful Fate or the doom laden Type O Negative, but it always comes together as a fully realised piece of work that would not be out of place next to Porcupine Tree’s Fear of a Blank Planet or even Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. This is an ‘album’ not just a collection of songs.
There are universal themes throughout the songs, raising questions about the value of human life, governments, personal decisions, struggles, conflict, love, loss and social awareness. If you like your metal with thought provoking lyrics, then this will get some heavy questions raised.
Nibiru takes us on a journey of a cosmic wrecking ball, based on a supposed disastrous encounter between Earth and a large planet – planet X or Nibiru. While this event holds no scientific proof of its apparent occurrence O’Toole manages to paint a picture of impending doom. After this song of cosmic doom we’re quickly grounded with If, a song about self-reflection and personal decisions.
Dehumanisation, followed by Sacrifice take us into the war for profit territories, the latter paying respect to those who have died on battlefields. It’s a common theme to metal songs, but few bring as many visuals to the listeners mind than what O’Toole manages to do. The Rage takes us to the war we face every day in the repetitions of the working class. The relentless performances on all the instruments within these songs fit the subject matter perfectly.
Surface is a reflective tale about loss and giving up which lures the listener along as we sink into the acceptance of helplessness before the mood changes subtly, forcing us back up to face another day. It’s rare that the music, lyrics and singing fit together so well to create an overall feel. This is art.
Killer guitar riffs, awesome drum work and thought provoking song writing. This could be any metal fans favourite ‘unknown’ band. For me, at least, it’s gotten under my skin and insists upon repeated listens and it’s been a while since any album has had that effect on me.