PR staff can be really annoying. “Have you checked this album out?”, “No, really, I know you get loads of new stuff, but this one’s really good”, “It’s out this week, have you had a chance…?” I mean, I know it’s their job, but come on. It’s not like they’re doing you a favour and trying to get you to listen to something that’s actually good oh good grief they are and I should have listened to them two weeks ago when they first sent it.
SpiritWorld are new on the scene and Pagan Rhythms is their first album (self-released in 2020 and getting a big release via Century Media now). If there’s any justice in the world, it won’t be their last. So what makes it so good? For this reviewer, it’s the rough edges. It harks back to the “let’s record it quickly and on a budget” days, where bands just banged shit out in a studio in a near-live scenario. It’s wonderfully in-your-face and just the right kind of slipshod. Yeah, it’s great to hear something tight as a gnat’s arsehole (Rust in Peace, oof), but sometimes you want something that bludgeons. Blunt objects can be so efficient.
With a solid bedrock of classic heavy metal, SpiritWorld add a cement layer of hardcore. The punchy rhythms make for something that’s immediately catchy and easy to get into. This is no-frills metal, unpretentious and heavy as a monster truck filled with lead shot. Seriously, just get past the slightly overlong intro to the opening, title track and enjoy getting smacked in the face by a barrage of simple riffage and slamming bass hits. The vocals are shouty and perfect for the angry music, screamed and guttural, short bursts of throat-produced angst.
“Pagan Rhythms” is a longer track, but the rest of the album’s songs float around the 3-ish minute mark and have an edge of the Andrew WK to them. Not so much in style, but in their ability to appear, lay waste, and disappear again before they use up all of their tricks. Incredibly violent beer commercials, to paraphrase one of AWK’s detractors from some years ago.
Really, the album is short enough that you can jump on a streaming site and check it out yourself in barely half an hour. And you should. Oh, and I’ll be impressed if anyone conjures up an intro more savage than that of “Unholy Passages” (fnaar) any time this year. This is an impressively huge album, but tightly packed into a small space. Like John Holmes in teeny tiny Speedos. Good luck getting that image out of your head.
The only thing missing is to see what kind of devastation this trio of lunatics can conjure up when provided with a stage and a range of amplifiers. Roll on Bloodstock 2022…
Header image: Sean Jorg
Pagan Rhythms is out now