Equal parts spastic and ghostly, BLANK SPELL exists somewhere between what people like to call dark punk, post punk and everyone’s favorite misnomer, death rock. This is, plain and simple, punk music. Accentuated by concise guitar movements, I can’t help but stand in awe of the musicianship of the guitar player/singer Cassidy. This is not to downplay the pinpoint drumming, which refuses to sit still even for a moment, and the ever-driving bass that stands, perhaps, most prominently as the backbone of the entire record. Upon each listen, I am drawn ever further into what is already one of my favorite records of the year by what is easily one of Philadelphia’s finest bands (no easy feat in a city of 100 truly great bands).
The record’s opener, “Malign Eye,” dives deep and direct into a tone and sort of twisted gallop offsetting in the best possible way. Less than two minutes later and you arrive at “Wax,” which is full of quick changes and an atmospheric moment reminiscent of PSEUDO ECHO’s “His Eyes,” most famously known for it’s inclusion in the second worst Friday the 13th Film, A New Beginning.
To say “Night Mute” is a slow burner may be an understatement. It takes nearly 30 seconds to get through the first verse, which seems long comparatively, but it pays off with an intriguing and beautiful cacophony that pulls away in perfect timing. I cannot stop listening to this fucking song. One more verse and chorus and we find what has dethroned the first chorus as my favorite part of the record. It ends. I am left wanting more. Luckily, there are two more songs to be had.
“Worm Envy” has the same great shifting dynamics I’ve come to expect in the last five minutes since the record began. The only problem is I can’t properly anticipate the changes and tempo swings I’ve now grown to love. Once again, when I think I have the songs nailed down, they blossom into something new. This becomes troublesome, as I tend to think I am hearing what will be the hook of the song, and it is easily replaced by an ethereal guitar overdub that makes me want to hit rewind. Luckily, there is only one song left.
“Proof.” The shortest song on the record starts off sounding typically punk, but changes abruptly (who would have guessed) into an ever-traveling barrage of nearly everything the band is capable of in the shortest distance possible. From the guitar ring outs in the last half of the song to the final notes, it makes me wish this was a record from 28 years ago that no one has heard, so I could rip it off without feeling too terrible about it.
See BLANK SPELL and buy the record in person:
Tonight, April 8th at St. Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, NY with DAWN OF HUMANS, PERSPEX FLESH, RAZORHEAD & DILATE
April 17th at Great Outdoors in Philadelphia, PA with MYSTIC INANE, PLEASURE LEFTIST & HALDOL