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Album review: Spellcaster - Night Hides the World


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Let’s face facts: the ‘80s were awesome. The decade’s films, video games and, of course, music were all far superior to what we endure now.


And because of that, facets of this wondrous time continue to invade popular culture. The films get remakes, the games get sequels on new consoles and the music… well, that’s where bands like Spellcaster come into the picture.

Alongside such names as Holy Grail, Savage Messiah, Toledo Steel and Dendera, Spellcaster are a band that brings ‘80s British metal into the modern era, mixing its grandiose and operatic nature with thrashing riffs and an upped dose of aggression.

A great deal of you reading this may be unfamiliar with Spellcaster, so here are the cliff notes; since forming in 2009, the Oregon-based five-piece have released two studio albums – Under the Spell and its self-titled follow-up Spellcaster – and shared the stage with the likes of Exmortus, Anvil, Satan and Night Demon.

The group’s Under the Spell debut was doubtlessly a stunning record (one of the best to come out of 2011’s metal underground), but their eponymous sophomore release was more problematic. Not only did it have a very low budget and production value, but it seemed to be missing the group’s je ne sais quoi: it didn’t feel as epic, inspired or powerful as its predecessor.

However, two years later and under the care of their new home at Prosthetic Records, Spellcaster are ready to bounce back harder than ever with Night Hides the World.

The record opens with ‘Aria’, beating its way into existence with the drums of Colin Vranizan, followed by Cory Boyd and Bryce Van Hoosen’s riffs. Singer Tyler Loney and bassist Gabe Franco soon complete the line-up, with the former truly stealing the show; Loney’s delivery throughout Night Hides the World is his best to date, feeling more empowered than ever before.

And as the entirety of Spellcaster begins to work in tandem, it also showcases Night Hides the World’s marked improvement in production quality; unlike its predecessor, this album is crystal clear for its entire runtime, a testament to the effort that Prosthetic are clearly placing into the band.

The instrumentation on the album has also evolved: it completes Spellcaster’s transition from thrash metal-style riffing to fast-paced shredding, sounding less like an operatic Metallica and more akin to a fusion of Angel Witch and HammerFall.

After ‘Aria’, Night Hides the World gives way to its title track; a ballad that soon sees the power of the album’s opener carry over before descending into a clean verse.

The drop in aggression lets the listener pay closer attention to Franco’s bass as well as Loney’s continually enrapturing performance, before the album’s momentum returns in the rockers ‘The Lost Ones’ and ‘Betrayal’.

Lead single ‘I Live Again’ does exactly what a single should do: opens with a speed and vitality that refuses to cease, complete with a simple yet highly melodic chorus and sweltering musicianship from all involved.

‘The Accuser’ strts with a brief, clean section from Boyd and Van Hoosen before the duo proceed to break the walls down with a fast-paced, mid-pitched riff.

The momentum and stunning work on the strings continues through ‘The Moon Doors’ before Spellcaster closes Night Hides the World with their magnum opus: the seven-minute ‘Prophecy’.

The track is one that slowly and continually builds, again opening with a riff from Spellcaster’s dual guitarists, before Franco and Vranizan provide a simple yet appetite-whetting beat. The instrumentation gradually becomes more and more complex, remaining at its mid-pace even as Loney’s vocals return.

With ‘Prophecy’, Night Hides the World truly ends on the best note possible, leaving listeners with the lasting memory of the album’s greatest track.

In short, Night Hides the World is a fantastic record through and through, and is the best album to date by the criminally underappreciated Spellcaster. The biggest take-away from it is easily its vocals and guitar-work, both of which serve to fuse classic NWOBHM with an increased sense of urgency.

Spellcaster have now made themselves fit to join the ranks of fellow old-school revivers like Holy Grail and Savage Messiah. These groups are currently forming metal’s latest and most intriguing movement, reinvigorating the classic metal sound in the UK and the American east coast.

Night Hides the World will be available physically and digitally on 8th July via Prosthetic Records.

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