The Spinners

Rock n’ Roll Death Toll (Lokomotiv, 2006)

In Dodo Dayao, Heavy Metal, OPM, Rock on December 7, 2010 at 4:22 am

The howl is in, the howl is down, the howl is everything. Basti Artadi’s  back on the snarl, at least for the duration of this record that went nowhere. Always a tricky proposition with me, these homegrown metal bands—and really, all metal bands. Hear one micro-Sabbath outfit, (OK, wank job) hear them all. One thing to sound samey, saminess afflicts all rock and roll sub-genres much as that sound fulfills a headbang cliché that was frayed even before Ian Astbury thought it bitchin’ to cover Steppenwolf (wasn’t) and only Red Horse marketing found uses for. But compositionally, too? Store-bought doominess is, after all, territorial. Is, after all, de rigueur.  Is, after all, cliché. Is, after all, dull.  Is severe blackened despair strapped on lumbering riffs like dynamite sticks all homegrown metal will ever muster? Whatever happened to misogyny? Lust? Drugs? All the neat stuff great rock songs are built from. Not manly enough, maybe.  And metal is a man’s, man’s, man’s, man’s world. Rock ‘n Roll Death Toll is certainly a manly record. It’s heavy, for one. And heavy’s given as a sonic destination—it’s a Sabbath thing, mainly, that thick sludge, those virtuosic air pockets, that deep, dark groove. What I meant was heavy as in gravitas. Same old politically diffuse and spiritually cryptic and obtusely apocalyptic gravitas.  Black is what they wear on the outside because black is what they feel on the inside. Uh huh.

Wolfgang did work for me a bit, out of Artadi’s howl anchoring dynamics, out of his knack for dredging up impressionistic, evocative imagery that thickens this manner of aura. Here he methods Satan in “Ride With Me”—I’m now your everything / the drugs that you need / salvation is my fee / upon your soul I’ll feed—and somehow invigorates the cliché. Then—she saw a flicker / she confused it with a star / and helplessly she folded when the wind blew out her heart—evoking lost souls wandering blasted landscapes in the war-torn “Ashes of Home.” New band, then, same as the old band?  Wolfgang, memory serves, were leaner, limber, ripped.  Lokomotiv feel more immense and barreling, like its namesake. A mass of thud on rails. Samey, really, but for that guttural howl anchoring dynamics, tricking up a haggard trope for as long as it’ll hold, which should be up until Artadi rides out the blight and turmoil to a tenuous salvation in “Madre Salvacion”—someone’s faith is gonna shake and awaken from within / then he’ll know what path to take and where he should begin—before leaving the band and taking that howl with him.

Dodo Dayao


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