Seven years ago, Neuronspoiler appeared on the British metal scene fully formed and ready to rock with an album, Emergence, that seemed to point to a bright future for the band. I said as much in the review of the album I did at the time for another organ.
Three years ago, they were back with another slick, massive-sounding exercise in trad metal superiority in the form of the criminally-overlooked Second Sight, in the process augmenting an already-impressive back catalogue of stomping metallic anthems with a fresh batch of arena-levelling classics. Again, I alluded to the sparkling horizon of achievement the band had seemingly in their grasp, this time for this very publication. They remain, to this day, very much darlings of the British metal underground.
So, having grasped the fact that the thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to learn from our mistakes, I’m not going to predict big things for Neuronspoiler again on the back of the emergence of album number three, the rip-roaringly metallic Spoilt For Choice – but I am going to rave about it. At some length.
Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial slab of a solid aggregate of minerals or mineraloids recently, you’ll know by now that the ‘Spoiler’s new album was produced by Danish knob-twiddling wizard of yore Flemming Rasmussen and mixed and mastered by German mix meister Charlie Bauerfeind; Both men have undoubtedly added to the sum of the band’s greatness on SFC, but, as we say so often within the pages of this web-based magazine, you can have all the performance in the world – but it still all boils down to the songs. And on this album Neuronspoiler have come up with some of the best of their career.
The opening one-two combination of An Eye For An Eye and Airstrike set the scene – the first a bruising piece of neothrash, the second more restrained but no less pummelling in it’s own way – but they only hint at the treasures to follow. In the following triumvirate of Angel of Britannia, Wake Up From You and Craving The Night, Neuronspoiler have indeed come up with some of their finest work to date – but not only that, they’ve come up with material that truly holds it’s own against the best the rest of the trad metal world has to offer.
Angel of Britannia, with it’s Spitfire imagery and interpolation of Holst‘s Jupiter (most notably the part of the work now better known as I Vow To Thee My Country after the addition of words by the British poet Sir Cecil Spring Rice) will of course be compared to Iron Maiden‘s Aces High but that comparison, whilst obvious and justified actually diminishes what Neuronspoiler have done with their particular piece of Battle of Britain storytelling; here the story speaks not just to history but to the present, in powerful fashion, and it’s the most important song the band has recorded thus far.
It’s followed by a song, Wake Up From You which starts off as weirdly redolent of Crowded House‘s Don’t Dream It’s Over before morphing into a powerful semi-power ballad led by singer JR‘s powerful emoting; He’s a fine metal singer, to be sure, but here he expands his repertoire a little to prove himself a versatile singer of songs rather than being just a mere bellower. Craving The Night follows, as good a piece of heads-down-no-nonsense heavy metal as you’ll hear all year. Here the band draw a line back through their first two albums, adding a welcome vein of continuity; though this is undoubtedly the band’s most diverse set of songs stylistically, the whole thing still rests on a bedrock of loud, proud, heavy metal thunder. Guitarists David del Cid, Adam Breyer and bassist Radek Koval all shine bright on this track.
The second half of the album kicks off a solidly as the first with the stentorian Fearless before the band take a slight left turn into the world of eighties shred via the fast-paced instrumental 6Cosmick6Triskellion6; every member of the band takes their turn in the spotlight here, and, though your reviewer isn’t overly keen on instrumentals such as this, it has to be said the at the track sits perfectly comfortably as proof of the band’s growing strength and confidence in their own abilities. The final trio of tracks find the band returning to more familiar waters; Hiding In Plain Sight is a souped-up banger, again featuring superior work from JR and some superb guitar interplay between del Cid and Breyer, who quickly establish themselves on this album as one of Britain’s best metal axe duos. Rock n’Roll Redemption hits hard in a more melodic style, giving JR ample chance to flex his vical chords in exuberant style, before the band close things out with the excellent Catch 22, which again looks to the late eighties/early nineties for inspiration with it’s flexible interchanges of riffage and vocals bringing to mind Extreme in their prime.
As noted in my opening comments, I’m not going to make grand claims on behalf of Neuronspoiler this time around; I shouldn’t need to, because Spoilt For Choice is clearly the work of a band ready to make a big step up, a band ready to take it’s place on the World stage. Good luck to them!
Spoiled For Choice releases on September 17th.