Just like the title suggests, Spotlights‘ sophomore full-length is truly a seismic affair.
The sheer sonic weight and expressiveness of post-metal meld effortlessly with wavering, textural atmospheres à la shoegaze and 90s alternative drive throughout Spotlights‘ endlessly pummeling tunes. The towering, heavy sludge instrumentation, combined with ethereal vocals and kaleidoscopic soundscapes, creates a surprisingly effective dichotomy. Many similar acts tend to get wrapped up in their adoration for bands like Hum, Failure or Swervedriver to the point of complete mimicry. Spotlights, on the other hand, blend these influences damn near perfectly into a unique sound that is all their own.
Following hot on the heels of 2016’s head-turning Tidals, Seismic shows the band continuing to refine and expand upon their already expansive sound. With 11 sprawling tracks and a whopping 70-minute runtime, Seismic take the listener on an epic sonic journey through huge, immersive sounds, gorgeous melodies and heavy riffs.
Just like its predecessor, Seismic is sonically consistent throughout its duration. Albums with such a lengthy runtime will occasionally overstay their welcome and feature their share of slow moments. But Spotlights, being masters at their craft, avoid these pitfalls by being engaging every step of the way, even during the more “straightforward” tracks.
Each track on Seismic bleeds seamlessly into the next, making for a lengthy barrage of sound that simultaneously soothes and pulverizes. From the ambient-soaked, bulldozing riffs of the album’s title track, to the dreamlike post-rock dirge of “The Hope of a Storm”, Seismic provides endless entertainment and cinematic grandeur that will appease metal fans of all walks of life.
Tracks like the hammering “Learn to Breathe” stampede out of the gate with gargantuan grooves and post-metal grit that wouldn’t sound out of place on later Isis and Pelican material, but the band’s penchant for melody, spectral vocal choruses and ability to craft oceans of colorful, sonic bliss transform a seemingly normal sludge/post-metal track into something far more captivating. Then there are more eclectic cuts like “Under the Earth”, which conjure Hum-esque, dreamy alternative rock marches that eventually get swallowed by dissonant beatdowns and strangely infectious doomy pop sensibilities.
The duo of nine-minute tracks “Hollow Bones” and “Hang Us All” offer some of the more dynamic and hard-hitting moments on Spotlights‘ new opus. Both tracks gradually build from calm introductions that are populated by icy post-rock exhibitions and atmospheric fervor, luring the listener into a false sense of security. Naturally, these tracks give way into leviathanic, metallic marches that could topple skyscrapers with each earth-shattering note. But in true Spotlights fashion, even the heaviest of moments are soaked in shimmering walls of shoegaze-esque sound, giving beauty to the sonic destruction.
With an ear for transcendental melody, earworm hooks and concussive, sludgy sensibilities, Spotlights are able to create a sound that expertly bridges the gap between metal and rock and blends elements of both into a catchy and crushing sound. Seismic is without a doubt this New York band’s crowning achievement to date, and definitely sets the bar high for others.
Release Date: October 6, 2017
Label: Ipecac Recordings
Favorite Tracks: “Seismic”, “Learn to Breathe”, “Ghost of a Glowing Forest” and “Hollow Bones”
For Fans Of: Isis, Palms, Deftones and Hum