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Seven That Spells

Future Retro Spasm

(Beta-Lactam; US: 6 Jul 2010; UK: 2 Aug 2010)

These guys might be brilliant, but I'm not sure

Seven That Spells is a psych-rock outfit from—get ready for it—Croatia! They have song titles like “Death Star Narcolepsy”! They put naked women on the covers of their records! For many of us, those are (ahem) three good reasons to give them a listen. Seven That Spells, however, is something of an acquired taste. I’m not altogether sure I’ve acquired it.


When the band grooves, as on opening track “Olympos”, they groove heavy, with thrumming basslines, pounding drums, and squalling, um—is that a saxophone? I’m pretty sure that’s a saxophone. This isn’t your typical ultra-heavy rave-up sound, but it works if you’re willing to go along. If you don’t like it, just hold on a minute—it’ll change to something else soon enough, along with the time signature.


They’re that kind of band, and this is that kind of record. Songs flit from one bit to another, fading out and fading in again, bridged by copious amounts of atonal wailing and/or percussive bashing, only to break through to some satisfyingly thrashy guitar riff. The songs are long enough to accommodate such wanderlust, with several longer than eight minutes and “The Abandoned World of Automata” weighing in at fourteen-plus.


There are no vocals, so the song titles seems thoroughly random, though “Terminus Est” and “Quetzalcoatl” both have a nice ring to them. These guys just might be brilliant, but given their ADD approach to songwriting, it’s hard to be sure. You probably won’t like them much if you’re looking for something conventional, but fans of noisy, envelope-pushing prog will find something of value here.

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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Seven That Spells - "Olympos"
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