TILL THE DIRT – Outside The Spiral
September 5, 2023, 3 weeks ago
Opening song “Starring Role” is the apt representation of Till The Dirt’s debut Outside The Spiral. It wallops screeching vocals, a grunge induced chorus, death metal chugs, a Black Sabbath groove, and a chaotic solo all in under 4 minutes. This album has no idea what it wants to be and I’m not sure Kelly Shaefer does either.
His work and vision with Atheist is undeniable, but there’s a fine line between innovation and being different just for the sake of it. He sees the death metal genre becoming too stagnant so he has decided to drown Till The Dirt in an abundance of influences to create this unfocused monstrosity. It doesn’t help with the modernized sound of the guitars and the computerized mix, but the drumming is the best aspect of this record – strong and captures the rapid pace of the album.
Shaefer is all over the place with his vocals, his screeches and screams are on point, but he turns the choruses on their head utilizing cleans reminiscent of Layne Staley and Jonathan Davis. It’s so strange and weird, but some might find this inviting.
The solos have this Reign In Blood chaos in them which clash with the rhythms on display. Case in point is in the buzzing “Insist And Demand” but here it actually works. And it seems that is what Kelly was trying to achieve with Outside The Spiral – unpredictability, disorder, atypical, and unique death metal. Much to his chagrin however, is that the most “typical” sounding tracks are the best ones. His urge to be different is commendable, but this could be so much better than it turned out.