Band – Spearhead
Album – Pacifism is Cowardice
Country of Origin – UK
Genre – Death Metal
Release Date – November 23rd, 2018
Label – Invictus Productions
Author – The Great Mackintosh
One has to say, the first thing that came to mind when one heard the name ‘Spearhead’ is of course the classic Bolt Thrower song of the same name from their ageless and perfect album ‘The IVth Crusade”. He who can ever get over the sound of those rolling drums and thundering riffs as they punch into your very soul, and then the word, one word uttered with the ultimate malevolence by sir Willetts, that being “Spearhead”, is dead to me. You are not worthy, nor ever shall be. Yes, I am also aware that it is also the pointy bit on a stick that is also named a spearhead, and also a battle formation, but that’s what came to mind first. It’s probably also the name of some group of people who ‘Really Want To Get Things Done”, but haven’t quite got anything less than a good bowel movement happening so far.
And yes, I digress as I so often do. I’m also not here to compare this band to anyone else, but there will be some similarities, so let us deal with them as we see fit. So, both hail from England. Both play Heavy Metal in the decidedly Death Metal vein, and both are fucking superb. Thus endeth the comparisons. One are now not here, and these guys most certainly are, without a doubt. When you hear this, you will undoubtedly draw some parallels, and that can be said with many a Metal band, but Spearhead’s gift to you is that they may well have joined that fateful IVth Crusade, but decided to take a sightseeing tour of the region and not just get bogged down in the fighting. Thus, they came back to us with a slightly different angle on things.
Speak up! Those down the back can’t hear you! Did you say “angle”, what the actual fuck does that mean! Calm thy tits young peasants, By that I mean the way that this group have collected all the memories of whatever crusade or war they have been on and applied it to the way they do things! Yes, I hear your collective sigh as you realise that you have just handed The Great Mackintosh a licence,as it where, to kill you all, with endless dribble. Fools.
The basics? Been around since 2005, this being their fourth full length after 2011’s ‘Theomachia’. Yes, this one is indeed seven years in the making, I don’t know why, so maybe ask them. My job here is to focus on this one, and that’s what I will be doing. That’s the boring shite out of the way, so now onto the album. “Duellorum” opens proceedings in the most chaotic of manners, with a shit ton of noise and a wake up call right at the end, short, and yet sufficient enough to awaken you in case you were napping. Then the main game commences, with “Of Sun and Steel”, an ode to all out war if ever there was one. Deciding whether this band is Black Metal, Death Metal, or any combination of the above then becomes your own fucking problem, because they clearly don’t give a rats arse and delight in battering you into pulp regardless. Yes, both exist on this one, and they wax and wane as they see fit.
Yes indeed, from one passage to the next, these fine folk are blasting you to death one minute, and the next, slowing stuff down to dig the proverbial grave and bury you in it, before once again rejoicing in our demise by blasting the shit out of everything else around them. “Wolves of the Krypteia, We” is the perfect example. It rumbles in like a horde of Spartans on the warpath, and then goes apeshit as they declare your sorry arse worthy of having war declared upon it. Yes, this song is about Spartans. I know this because I looked it up, and it is a very fitting soundtrack to their madness and courage indeed. One could don a helmet, find 299 good friends and make a movie about this kind of thing.
Other highlights include the punishing “Degeneration Genocide”, with vocalist Barghest really sounding like the very incarnation of one of the many meanings of his title, this one being a monstrous black dog of some hellish variety with large teeth and claws fit to rend your very soul. His delivery is very much that of an almost bark like nature at times, and not the kind of bark you want to hear in your neighbourhood anytime soon. The rest of this beast is an all out blast fest to say the least. Not too much room to breathe between one tumultuous riff passage and the next. Typhon on drums must also be some kind of wicked creature with eight arms such is his prowess on the kit. I almost feel sorry for the poor thing.
“The Elysian Idol” could quite well have just time travelled straight from the eighties in some aspects, having a real Morbid Angel mixed in with a bit of Slayer’s Hell Awaits era vibe about it, and yet the technical prowess of both Invictus on rhythm guitar and Praetorian on the lead lift it to a whole new level. Barghest again invoking the spirit of some unholy fiend on both vocals and the thundering intricate bass lines. Absolute killer material right here. “A Monarch to Rats” may well have you thinking our good friends Bolt Thrower had come along for a brief hello, before more of the Black Metal influence rears its head and all hell breaks loose. This is powerful stuff indeed, and again the mixing of riff styles throughout keeps the music well and truly alive as it thunders along.
“Aion (Two Keys and a Lion’s Face)” would be my pick of an already excellent crop. Having a touch of the epic in both title and musical delivery. This one fits in very well the whole militaristic feel of Spearhead, again a mixing of styles but probably a little more laid back in the pace department. Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous, but when you hear some of what is to offer on this fine effort you will get exactly what I am saying. A cracking piece indeed, with some absolutely stellar lead work and slower meatier passages. If anything this number is as solid as they get, and a worthy end to a damn good album. Instrumental piece “Aftermath” then takes us out on a morning sunrise at some battlefield somewhere in the history of mankind, bodies strewn as far as the eye can see, the sun baking the littered corpses and making mere silhouettes of the circling vultures as they wheel around tirelessly above. You can almost feel it’s heat and smell the stench, it’s that good.
Recommendation – Black or Death, or both, or whatever – Spearhead are really proving a point on this one, and it has a very murderous edge to boot!
Rating – 4/5