SPELL - Tragic Magic
November 9, 2022, a year ago
Vancouver’s Spell is back with their fourth full-length and first as two-piece unit. Guitarist Graham McGee left in 2021 leaving bassist Cam Mesmer and drummer Al Lester to utilize their six string skills on Tragic Magic. Spell keeps their tricks short and to the point with ten tracks sitting at 38 minutes. It can be best defined as if mid-‘80s Rush played a hybrid mix of gothic metal with a swirl of Voivod and splash of Cauldron.
Spell dresses their songs with backing synths and a strong bass presence with guitar leads Alex Lifeson would be proud of. Opener “Fatal Breath” sounds like Grace Under Pressure-era Rush mixed with Voivod’s Angel Rat. “Hades Embrace” and “Sarcophagus” are musically the heaviest of the bunch that remind of Cauldron except they possess exploding chorus work.
There’s quite the contrast in the both halves of the album as the songs become more adventurous – “Watcher Of The Seas” is pure ‘70s prog rock with a main guitar melody to latch onto that segues into atmospheric, spacey instrumental closer “The Watcher”. The cleverly titled “Cruel Optimism” musically hits the irony with aggressive guitars in the chorus, but a glowing, dreamy bass riff in the verse.
Spell hits with immediacy which affords the lower runtime and feels like the most accessible of their albums; which isn’t a bad thing at all. “A Ruined Garden” jumps out with its almost happy vibe; accent by light piano notes in the background. Could fit on a Wytch Hazel record.
While 2020’s Opulent Decay stands a stronger record overall; the compact, but still imaginative songwriting of Tragic Magic is an enjoyable affair that needs to be checked out.