Defspiral Makes PROGRESS with Solid First Album
Defspiral’s new album PROGRESS begins with “SALVAGE,” a confident sign of things to come with pacey grunge rock and snarling vocals. There are a number of electronic cyber elements throughout, which add a dance beat to the fantastically L’Arc-ish “READY OR NOT” and the dark crunching melody of “DIVE INTO THE MIRROR.” This latter was the group’s first release under the name of defspiral, and it is understandable why as a statement of the quality of defspiral’s compositional skills. “Paradise” also demonstrates this flair, particularly the mid-song guitar solo straight out of the ’70s and the spacey, progressive-style drums.
While the first half of the album is solid, the second half sees defspiral experimenting with a range of diverse styles. The album hits a high with “REVOLVER” and “TSUKI TO VENUS,” two very different pieces, each equally as arresting as the other. “REVOLVER” begins with a strong riff that builds and builds before charging into a pulsating piece of rock, and TAKA’s vocals match the guitars for aggression. What really makes it stand out though is the change of pace leading into the chorus; everything slows down and the snarling vocals become almost sensual as the melody slides along the scale. “Tsuki to Venus” on the other hand, is a good example of how to do a gentle rock piece without resorting to tacky strings or other such grandiosity. The funk beat of the verses with TAKA’s rapping is a neat contrast to the sweeter chorus and the lovely lyrics as TAKA sings “I’m always waiting just for you.” Given the lyrics and the sweetness of the chorus it could almost be a ballad, but defspiral keep things ever so cool.
The experimental style continues with “NIGHTMARE,” which–fitting the title–starts out with a church organ and touches of old Malice Mizer style. The only problem is that while the thunderous metal and classic influences sound good, they seem out of place on this album. The song itself is workable but the gothic sound doesn’t flow well with the rest of PROGRESS.
The other disappointment is “MELODY” which, unlike the other singles, sounds a bit too commercial and mainstream. The Spanish guitar adds interest but apart from that, “MELODY” does not particularly stand out among the rest.
The title piece, “PROGRESS,” makes up for it, though the song is surprisingly short. From the subtle opening of TAKA’s vocals layered over darker cyber elements to which a soaring guitar is added, “PROGRESS” crescendos into a grand finale. There are more obvious ’70s influences in the drumbeat and the harmony of the backing vocals, which make it an intriguing song–perhaps a little too short, as you’re left at the end wanting more–that neatly draws together the threads of the album, making for a memorable close.
PROGRESS is in all a solid and comfortable first album from defspiral, wrapping up some of their sounds from past incarnations. The band proves to be exciting yet reliably consistent just as Transtic Nerve once was. Keep an eye on this one!
- READY OR NOT
- DIVE INTO THE MIRROR
- Tsuki to Venus