UK-based metalheads Neuronspoiler have been quiet for a while – can it really be four years since their splendid debut Emergence, um emerged?
Apparently it is. But pleasingly the band have picked up exactly where they left off with that fine first effort. That means songs packed with eminently hummable melodies and screaming (but also eminently hummable) guitar solos, all built around the basic tenet that the best musical genre ever invented by humankind was, is, and will always be, heavy metal as it was played in the eighties.
If we’re really focussing on the minutiae, you’d say that Second Sight is a slightly darker oeuvre than Emergence, heavier both musically and lyrically, but, as already noted, that doesn’t mean the band are now stinting on melody. Opening brace Reclaim Your Path and Slay the Beast positively ripple with the stuff, vocalist JR leading from the front with a pleasing style that really draws the listener in, whilst guitarists David Del Cid and Pierre Afoumado both put in Stakhanovite shifts at the riff face, weaving in and out of one another’s playing with the practised ease of all the great metal guitar pairings.
Slay the Beast is an appealing choice as opening single and features some marvellous Harrisesque bass playing from Erick Tekilla; This is Revolution is a jagged take on power metal, the raw production adding bite to the riffage and presence to the chanted backing vocals. However no knob-twiddling needs be added to JR’s vocals, which are simply superb on this track.
The Brave One is pure classic metal. Building from clean guitars and another semi-galloping bassline before exploding come chorus time, the song once again reiterates what a firm grasp this band has on its craft. There is a template being followed here, for sure. But the band bends that template to its own advantage, ensuring the resultant noise never sounds like mimicry or mere tribute, remaining at all times demonstrably the work of Neuronspoiler.
The stately crunch of Queen of the Darkness has a real Dio feel to it, especially in the chunky riffage and thudding drumwork of Matthew Monroe, whose work goes on largely unsung throughout the album despite being an integral part of the overall sound. Hidden Agenda is solid, impressive heavy metal, nothing more, nothing less, and features the most accomplished singing on the album from JR, who locks on to the melodies supplied by Del Cid and Afoumado with heatseeking precision.
Next up the band take a massive chance by covering lost Judas Priest classic Heart of a Lion, but it pays off. Not many bands could come close to the titanic Racer X version of this song, but Neuronspoiler do just that, all the while giving the track enough of their own stamp to make the cover worthwhile. It fits in with the rest of the album seamlessly, which says a lot in itself.
Final song Murder City again builds nicely on the back of some nice opening guitar work. The chorus is quite spellbinding, melding all sorts of elements from the eighties hard rock songbook to create something very interesting indeed. I’ve tried to come up with a short n’nifty way to encapsulate the song’s beguiling nature, but I really can’t. Coney Hatch jamming with Y&T? So close, and yet so far…
A great album, then, and hopefully this is the one to give the Neuronspoiler career the heart start it so clearly deserves. Four years between drinks is too long, so let’s hope we don’t have to wait as long for the next one. Fantastic work.
Neuronspoiler will release Second Sight through Dissonance Productions on October 20th.