As the first sounds emerge from the darkness, this is as atmospheric as it gets from Sparzanza. The opening orchestral sounding theme music is ominous, as it creeps from the speakers across my room, up the wall, and across the ceiling, preparing to bash my head in from above.
As the first track “Announcing The End” begins, vocalist Fredrik Weileby sounds uncannily like M Shadows, vocalist of rock reprobates Avenged Sevenfold. It’s not his fault that he sounds like the Avenged frontman, it’s just a voice after all. So, as the music takes hold, do they even hold a candle to Avenged? You bet your ass they do!
The tune builds slowly, as does his voice and, just as it reaches the peak, it kicks into a smasher of a riff that kicks and kicks over and over again. The chorus is short but to the point and powerful. At the 3 minute mark, the band tops it off nicely with a little guitar solo before slowing right down to just a voice and acoustic guitar. Then BOOM!, it all kicks off again.
“Damnation” opens with a sound that’s akin to an air raid siren – could this be a sign of things to come? The riff is just so full and crunchy, as it rolls and rolls like ocean waves over the beat. His vocals remind me a bit of Dee Snider on this one, so it would seem Weileby‘s a bit of a chameleon.
This track has more of a groove to it, something close to a Down or Corrosion Of Conformity. It’s weird it has those comparisons, but it has that American rock radio hit written all over it to boot. At 3 mins, it also changes pace and, if you close your eyes, you can see the masses bouncing along to this in the stadia of the world.
For “Whatever Come May Be“, I had to check that title was correct because it didn’t sound right. Maybe it’s the Swedish translation of the English language that jumbled it all up, but whatever…It starts out with a weird whistle sound played over a chugging bass line with almost a cowboy feel. When the vocals come in, it’s my worst nightmare come true – he’s trying to sound like Chad Kroeger from Nickelback! The chorus is huge on this one, which makes it feel even more like the aforementioned band, of whom I’ll mention no more. The sound as a whole is huge in this song; there’s what sounds like a female vocal running around behind the main vocal and just a huge guitar sound that fills in all the cracks.
“Vindication” kicks off in a wall of noise and feedback before a pounding White Zombie riff just destroys everything in its path. I love the off-key vocals that run through the verse and get quite a surprise when he just blasts into a full-throated scream in the pre-chorus. Again, the chorus is huge and you could easily hear this track playing on American rock radio. The solo and song break comes in around the 3-minute mark yet again, which seems to be the norm throughout, but it gives your mind a second to take it all in before you get bashed upside the head again by the riff.
“The Trigger” barrels in with another punishing riff that makes you want to jump around the room. Sparzanza just sound so powerful, the production is really well done. I would liken the sound to Metallica’s Black Album, as it just has that heavy bottom end that I like so much. This is definitely one of those to put on your iPod gym tracks that you could power lift too. At around 2:30, there’s a change in the pace of the song and this bouncy little riff comes in that sounds like a banjo (but not a banjo).
“Breathe In The Fire” – wow, what a riff! It’s slow, it’s dirgy and thick, but I like it. The vocals are heartfelt and gravelly, but fit the song like a glove. The chorus hits and we’re just about in power ballad territory, done Sparzanza style. This track just makes me feel like I can kick the shit out of any negativity in my day. The solo is just ripping all over the place, right throughout the final verses and chorus of the track and just gives it a whole new dimension. I love this track and this is definitely going on my iPod playlist.
“One Last Breath” takes its first steps with what sounds like the soundtrack to a 1920’s silent movie – it’s weird, but it suits the song. When the vocals come in, they float over the aforementioned backing track but complement it with a punchy little riff here and there. When the track starts off proper, holy shit, here we go – time to destroy the living room again. This a full-on rocker with a massive chorus that could start to make songs throughout this album a bit samey, but I don’t think so much with this one because even though the choruses are huge, the lead-ups are very different on each track. This is one of those Beavis and Butthead moments where you can just picture Beavis screaming, “hey Butthead, these guys rock” and Butthead replying, “Hahah yeah they would totally rock your mom dude, like I did last night“.
“To The One” has that Godsmack feel, with the layered vocals and down-tuned guitar giving that grungy feel. The chorus is a bit of a weird fit with the verse, it’s kind of like they thought this bit sounds good to start, but then we need to fit this massive chorus from another song over the top. This is a bit of a weird one and not my favorite track on the album; it sounds a bit of a throwaway to my ears. It has cool parts that just sound so good, but then the song as a whole disappoints me personally.
“The Dark Appeal” blasts in with a mean beat-you-with-a -tick riff and screamed vocal that just rips your face off. We’re back in amazing territory and the song actually fits together seamlessly. This track sounds so much different to everything else on offer here and it’s refreshing to know they are not a one-trick pony. I like the break at the 2:30 mark, which sounds like a theremin but I suspect its actually guitar effects with a bit of soulful guitar played behind.
“We Are Forever” sounds like an early Thin Lizzy riff on steroids. It has that rolling over the hills of Cork and Kerry sound to it at first, but then gets heavier and heavier as the song progresses. As it heavies up it has that galloping “into the void” by Black Sabbath pace to it.
“The Truth Is A Lie” is another bouncer of a track that reminds me of Ministry and White Zombie combined. Even the vocals are reminiscent of those two bands at first, before the clean vocals break into the chorus. As I listen, it reminds me a bit of Rob Zombie‘s track “Dragula”, only with good vocals. It all ends off with a nice bit of a piano backing track with a reverberating guitar and some nice soulful clean vocals.
Final thoughts on the album. What the hell is going on in Sweden? Between Sparzanza and The Soul Exchange releasing two of the best albums this year, I’m considering a move to the Scandinavian countries. This album is a pounding slab of rock, for people who love Black Sabbath, Avenged Sevenfold and Shinedown among many others. Don’t be deceived by that lineup, as they are no one trick pony. This is one ass kicking, face melting, soul-lifting band. Alright, some of the choruses sound a bit samey, but like I said before, the rest of the song makes up for it in the long run. Thanks, Sparzanza, for making my second favorite album of the year!