This fantastic review was written by occasional guest reviewer David Thurling, a lover of music from Britain who graciously helps me with my crushing workload. I previously featured Spiral Rocks on this blog this past May when I reviewed their single “Know Your Weapon”.
Spiral Rocks is a UK band from England’s distinctly working-class North West. This is a region of the country that is best known for its smoke billowing factories, Victorian era tenements and dark, overcast skies. It is also home to two of the country’s most influential music cities, Manchester and Liverpool. Perhaps the above imagery is a little unfair in this modern day, and in this writer’s experience, there is wonderful warmth that oozes out of the very pores of the North that is distinctly more genuine and charming than anywhere else in the country. Yet it is from the very essence of this austere world that we have seen some of the greatest musicians and bands emerge over the last 50 years or so. It is therefore appropriate that my first listen to Widnes-based Spiral Rocks is their latest haunting tune, “Raw Suicide”.
The single’s cover art reinforces the desperation and bleakness that permeates the 5:29-long track. Yet the at the same time, the black and white photograph of menancing clouds overlooking a steel arch bridge reveals a hopeful sun fighting to breakthrough an ominous sky. “Raw Suicide” begins with a measured lone guitar arpeggio that defies the aural take-off that comes later. Gently picked notes move up and down the guitar neck providing a wistful backdrop to a two part vocal that immediately sets a confronting tone both vocally and lyrically. Lets not mince words here, “Raw Suicide” is a painful confession that is indeed, raw.
Thinking to myself
That I don’t like to die.
As I’m writing this old song
With a tear in my eye
“Raw Suicide’ continues in this vein with its anguished lead vocals but then something quite special happens, almost like a reward for having made it through the inherent sadness of the first half of the song. The band erupts into an exhilarating and extended guitar solo/bridge that seems to provide hope for the antagonist. It is a soaring moment with pounding drums and bass providing a magnificent platform on which a wailing guitar lead overwhelms the listener. To finish, we go back to the beginning with the gentle guitar picking being in this case, the calm AFTER the storm. There is something about this song that reminds me of Pink Floyd, especially the beginning guitar and vocal stylings.
Spiral Rocks is an interesting story. A band that has been gigging on and off together for many years. You get the sense that bands like Spiral Rocks are gems in the rough that in another era where autotune and drum sampling were thankfully absent, they may well be receiving the attention they deserve. A refreshing, unapologetic song that is worth a listen. Spiral Rocks is Antony Shone (vocals/guitar), Dave Baker (guitar), Stephen “Rowy” Rowe (bass) & Mark Bevan (drums).