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Sunday, July 27, 2008

CD Review: Spitfire - Cult Fiction

Spitfire - Cult Fiction
2008 Goodfellow Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

In some ways the cover art for Spitfire's Cult Fiction is titillating in an unstable, primeval sense, but it is also appropriately dark and disturbing. While one might be led to believe this is a black metal album on the face, Cult Fiction is a revisionist theory album largely based on what Steve Austin has engineered over the years with Today is the Day. Akin to many art-driven screech bands like The Number 12 Looks Like You, Quell or on a more recognizable note, early Norma Jean, Spitfire utilizes shock value to its blunt aural delivery on top of the provoking images barely caged inside Cult Fiction's liner notes.

Though vocalist Jonathan Spencer sears his throat apart with the same frustrated candor of a teething infant throughout Cult Fiction (delivering the recipient of such bleeding vociferousness the same inflicted earache) his rhythm section compensates with constantly engaging post punk (if that's what we're still supposed to call it these days) drive on songs like "The Animal Kingdom of Heaven's Gate," "Meth Monster," "Meat Maker" and "Mother Earth in Labor." The fact there's a Christian-based plea bargaining beneath it all makes Spitfire spiritualists of an entirely different (though no less meaningful) conviction.

Frequently wired for self-destruction, Spitfire plays to the teetering edge on Cult Fiction and the majority of the time they exhibit the discipline to jerk their listeners back from diving off their screaming hardcore cliffs. Artistically coloring "Dawn Patrol" with a trancy haze of guitar and piano that weirdly reminds of Zakk Wylde's more creative moments in Black Label Society, as well as spinning hallucinatory ambience on their two "Apnea" segments, Spitfire manages to instill conflicting parts of calm between the otherwise outraged cannonade blasting Spitfire to smithereens.

Most people are going to want to lump Spitfire into the screamo sanction, if for nothing else, Jonathan Spencer's over-the-edge yelling and a random propensity to expunge speed-skid-halt tempos on songs like "Pro-Life" and "Crossed." The differentiating factor between Spitfire and a prototype screamo band utilizing this conscript is that Spitfire incorporates a bludgeoning breakdown in the middle of "Crossed" that is more reminiscent of Today is the Day instead of your typical windmill and karate kick-inducing metalcore unit. Take another song like "Brain Debris" and its agreeably lumbering rhythm that surrenders to a trail of faint cacophony; shakily experimental yet effective. Cult Fiction has a few bitter pills to swallow along the way, but the album tries to be inventive instead of conventional and it does skullfuck its audience, delivered as promised on the savagely obscene cover. Unhinged art begetting equally confrontational art in this case...

Rating: ****


bob_vinyl said...

The album is extreme, but it is all about love.

David Amulet said...

Nice cover, sicko.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

David, that just made my day, hahahahaha!

Bob, you have to love it when music treads the fine line between love and hate on the side of love.