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Album reviews with Michal Boncza: January 23, 2023

New releases from The Dassins, Sylvette and Spear of Destiny

The Dassins
Suburban Nightmare
(Independent)
★★★★★

QUITE unexpectedly this East Leeds-based quartet’s debut album gets, thrillingly, under your skin with its very first chords. The sound load is delivered with extraordinary confidence for bunch of lads this young.

The distinct timbre of Ewan Turner and Riley Gill’s versatile voices, the excellent musicianship of all four, anchored by Edward French, rich and intelligent drumming and their spirited guitar play, which includes Jamie Hannan, energises.

The Dassins arrangements have flair and abandon spiced by inventive and melodic brief riffs such as in the brooding Stealing Bread: “Self immolation they cry status frustration,/ Stealing bread to get right back to my home.”

There is intelligence and honesty in their handling of the hopelessness of “suburban nightmares” that will resonate with their generation. Way to go lads!

Ewan’s grandad Andrew Turner chipped in with the cover design and their enigmatic name is borrowed from Jules Dassin’s family.

Sylvette
Single Thread
(Velveteen Records)
★★★★★

THAT the Manchester quintet Sylvette have garnered support from BBC 6 Music should not surprise — it dubbed their sound “dramatic, sophisticated and stylish,” an accolade fully deserved.

They took the name from Picasso’s frequent model the pottery-factory worker Sylvette.

Single Thread is the outcome of vocalist/guitarist Charlie Sinclair’s experience of caring for his disabled and terminally ill father, and the subsequent loss experienced during lockdown. It is unusually honest, intimate and ultimately cathartic songwriting.

Delivered with a meditative, almost melancholy, vocal, blends of solos augmented with vocalised choruses and mesmerising string passages Single Thread, Blanket of Dust and Borrowed Time absorb totally and richly reward.

The two brief interludes Dream Diary 1 and 2 are reflective spoken word pieces accompanied by dreamy electronic sounds that offer respite but require considerable listening readjustment — not unlike like Picasso’s simultaneous multi-angled vistas.

A major accomplishment.

Spear of Destiny
Ghost Population
(Easter Snow)
★★★★★

IT MAY be hard to believe that Kirk Brandon has now been leading Spear Of Destiny (SoD) for over 39 years and this is their 15th studio album. He also heads Dead Men Walking, the supergroup with a multi national line-up.

Brandon has been called “the Wagner of rock n roll” and it is easy to see why when listening to this relentless, tour-de-force oeuvre of flawless musicianship.

Rock seldom reaches such monumentality or pathos. Shine: “This is not the day to cry, this is not the day to walk with your head hung down,” Neolythic By Design, Bread And Circuses or Their England will take your breath away. These are superb and sublime anthems for our time.

Brandon explains the title: “Not acknowledging the disenfranchised [is] writing them out of existence.” SoD know perfectly which side they are on.

Spear of Destiny was the “holy spear” with which Longinus pierced Jesus’s side to check if he was alive.

 

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