Speglas’ second EP Time, Futility & Death has been long overdue, coming in close to seven years after the band’s first effort Birth, Dreams & Death. Like many of their Swedish peers over the last decade, Speglas writes material that has half its roots in death metal and the other half firmly on the rock and progressive side of the aisle. On this newest effort the group has chosen to explore even softer textures and darker melodies while still heading back into harsher territory at just the right moment. They may still bear a lot of similarities to some of the other Swedish bands offering a similar fusion of harsher riffing and somber beauty, but the engaging songwriting makes Time, Futility & Death a worthy listen for fans of the style.
Isak Koskinen Rosemarin not only spent time as a live member of Morbus Chron but joined its successor project Sweven, so it isn’t surprising that some of Speglas’ textures and build-ups resemble elements of those bands. But while there are passages that have a progressive rock slant to them, the emphasis here tends to be more on darker rock influences that tread the line between gothic, hard rock, and heavy metal. In this way Speglas actually reminded me a lot more of Tribulation than Morbus Chron or Sweven on Time, Futility & Death, as there is a similar back and forth between the softness and darker tonality of the melodies and intensity of the death metal passages. While the blast beats and harsher elements of tracks like “One Last Midnight” can still capture the attention of any death metal diehard, it’s the subtleness of the softer textures that continued to draw me back to the group’s material. Whether it’s the beautiful and reflective acoustic guitar that opens “At the Precipice” or the gothic touches that the piano adds on “Avow”, these nuances do a lot to keep you entranced in what Speglas has to offer. Admittedly even with the band starting to branch out and pull in additional textures they did end up falling a bit too close to some of the other artists in this same vein, and there remains room for them to push out even further into unexplored territory.
Isak Koskinen Rosemarin vocals remain rooted in harsher screams for much of the EP’s run-time, and his raspier pitch adds some extra intensity and grit even when the instrumentals are at their softest. This is another element that contributes to the Tribulation comparison as the performances are quite similar but given how well the harsher vocals blend with the rest of the band it works to Speglas’ advantage. The biggest shake-up comes during “On the Precipice”, where the vocals transition over to somber singing that sounds somewhere between gothic rock and doom. This was a pleasant surprise given how strong the singing is here, and it makes this particular track stand out above some of the others on the EP. I’d be curious to see if this style plays a larger role in Speglas’ material by the time a full-length comes out, as this could give them an edge over some of the others out there.
As someone that really enjoys Tribulation, Sweven, and Morbus Chron, Speglas’ latest EP scratches a similar itch and delivers a strong dose of somber and atmospheric rock/metal with some bursts of death metal in between. They have left themselves with room for further growth though, and I’m left feeling as though the best is still to come as the group continues to refine their approach and head into new territory. Expect to get plenty of mileage out of this one if any of the above fits your tastes, but hopefully we won’t have to wait another seven years to see where Speglas heads next. Time, Futility & Death is available from Pulverised Records.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg