SPIRITWORLD “Deathwestern”

By Dr. Abner Mality

Here’s thrash metal that’s perfect for a blistering desert wasteland littered with the bones of the dead and with clouds of buzzards floating in the sky. Imagine Lucio Fulci directing a gory film filled with madmen, demons and zombies, but one that’s set in the old West of Sergio Leone. And then imagine SLAYER doing the soundtrack instead of Morricone. This is the essence of “Deathwestern”.

I caught these cowpokes opening up for OBITUARY last year and became fascinated with their extreme metal filtered through a country-western lens. Well, with “Deathwestern”, SPIRITWORLD kicks everything up a notch...the violence of their music, the hellish imagery of their dusty Wild West world. If you ever read the “Jonah Hex” comic book from DC, you’ll be familiar with the supernatural vision of the West portrayed here. You can see that in the garish cover art. As for the music, this is really pure SLAYER worship, with a good chunk of HATEBREED’s brutish hardcore tossed in. The influence of “South of Heaven” and “Seasons In the Abyss” in particular is overwhelmingly evident. I mean, the riff on “Crucified Heathen Scum” is pulled right off of “War Ensemble” with no attempt made to alter or disguise it.

Well, SLAYER is no more, so the field is open for SPIRITWORLD’s interpretation of their sound. After the twangy Western opening of “Mojave Bloodlust”, the band dive right into the raging thrash of the title track, with singer Stu Folsom’s caveman roars conjuring visions of damnation and massacre, as well as sounding a lot like HATEBREED’s Jasta. From there, the album rips through thrasher after thrasher with relentless speed. In many ways, the album sounds like one big mega-epic of honky-tonk thrash metal. You get pulled into its energy and its crazy story of religious fanatics and damned outlaws. It takes the SLAYER template and twists it into something dusty, bloody and smelling of brimstone.

This band gets more intense with each new outing and “Deathwestern” is the most hellbent yet. I wonder how brutal the next one will be?