Today, I received the new album by these sound-sculptors from Gdansk, Poland. I couldn't wait to feed it to my CD player and check out what these guys have been doing. However, the biggest question is: can they do better than their masterpiece 'Yos', from their previous album, 'Salute Solitude'? Let's dive into 'Martial Hearts'.
The album opens with 'Wild Eyes', which feels like an intro but also not. In a way it follows the atmospheric style of their previous album but you can sense that this is a huge step forward. The tune drives on gloomy soundscapes and electronic percussion. Spoiwo have been listening to Tiny Fingers and to Boards Of Canada and to Thisquietarmy, but more important, Spoiwo have been growing. Right after this magnificent opener comes the biggest surprise. 'Two Mountains' is a song, with vocals, somewhere between shoegaze and doom metal but without distortion. While still playing with their typical guitar drones, Spoiwo seems to have experimented in many different directions. More electronics, more atmosphere, more vocals, more sentiment.
'Riot Sons' will easiliy please all fans of post rock plus everyone who's into the electronic sounds of Bonobo, Future Sound Of London, Worriedaboutsatan or Subheim. This one also answers the question about topping 'Yos'. The answer is "pretty much, yeah". Much like 'Yos', 'Riot Sons' is an immersive sonic journey, but that could be said about this whole album. Take the single 'Verge' for example, a mesmerizing piece of work which will even make Autechre-freaks drool. I think it's clear by now. This is not the same Spoiwo we met at Dunk! and in 'Salute Solitude'. This is an atmospheric vehicle on steroids.
'Taur' is perhaps the most post-rock related tune and also a nice breather after the weird tune 'Oyem'. While the latter is the most experimental track, 'Taur' is one of those amazing Spoiwo masterpieces with a steady rhythm, lengthy soundscapes and heaps of instrumental power. 'Wounds' takes things even further buy dragging in elements of experimental doom metal, martial industrial and, once again, vocals. Crazy stuff, but nonetheless fantastic. Closer 'Ghost Of Chance' mainly functions as an outro with intense electronic ambient and shedloads of atmosphere.
So, the verdict? I don't think it's a good idea to compare 'Martial Hearts' to 'Salute Solitude' since this is a whole new creative outing by Spoiwo. It's not better but also not worse, it's something different, a new episode in the ongoing story of Spoiwo. It's also an album-of-the-year candidate, already, one I will recommend to every fan of dark atmospheric music. And I'm damn sure that, when the stages reopen, Spoiwo will once again enchant audiences everywhere with this magnificent album. So yes, an absolute stunner and a sonic adventure of the highest order. SPOIWO IS BACK. Isn't that all we needed?