Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus (Spirit Knife)
Crank this to 9.6 of 11 - Editors' Pick
Genre: Psychedelic Rock
Sounds Like: Wolfmother, Led Zeppelin, Dead Meadow
We are way past the odd and confusing band name. What we have settled into is that this is that this is a fucking great band that will hopefully be around for a long time. On their third release, Spirit Knife, Jeremy Irons & the Ratgang Malibus (JIRM) continue to mature and prove that their sound is rich and complex. Deep melodies and patient complex song structure are what define the band. As a listener you need patience and to let their albums grow on you like a fine wine. In our previous review Bloom, we used names such as Led Zeppelin and Mystic Krewe of the Clearlight to describe their vibe. We accentuate "vibe" in that JIRM has a sound all their own. Spirit Knife takes things a step further from their last album offering up fewer but much longer songs that are consistent melodic wonders. The album is more beautiful than it is heavy. The themes throughout are quite melancholy and on the darker side. Lead singer/guitarist Karl Apelmo continues to amaze us with the maturity and the strength in his voice. Very charismatic vocals and we are confident that he will create some significant buzz in the rock world... eventually... his voice is too inviting to dodge significant notice. 'Spirit Knife' is loaded with vibrant echo effect on Apelmo's vocals. We are huge fans of echo particularly on a solid and distinct voice like his.
Spirit Knife is definitely less 'psychedelic' thanBloom. In fact, we could argue 'Spirit Knife' is more of a straight rock album. Bloom was filled with more Graveyard-like bluesy psychedelic rock anthems whereas 'Spirit Knife' contains more depth and layers within each track. After several listens the songs will intrigue you and we found ourselves hearing new subtle changes. You know the saying... "more is not always better". Focus and consistency is whatSpirit Knifedelivers. A consistent mood throughout that becomes more appreciated if the listener takes it straight through and avoids jumping tracks.
The first track, "Fog by the Steep" sets the tone for the album and is perhaps our favorite on the album. An eerie guitar melody reverbs throughout. Within the first minute you hear the screaming guitars kick in along with Apelmo's Plant like screeching. Believe it or not this may be the heaviest moment on the entire album. The next track "Wind Seized" will whisk you away via enchanting echo and great lyrics. The song is one of the more uptempo tracks off the album, but contains some great high and low change-ups. Track 3, "Sworn Collision" is a beautiful tune. This one took quite awhile to grow on us. At first we felt the song conjured up melodies from the intro to "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds", but as do all of the tracks on this album, the layers get pulled back and we got beyond this. This is one of the more heartwarming tunes on the album. Track 4, "Once Levitated" also takes some time to grow on you. The melody eventually becomes infectious. This song shows JIRM's tenacity in sticking with their melody primarily driven by the inflection in Apelmo's voice accompanies by sweet and vibrant guitar-work. The next three tracks continue on a similar vein... great soothing jams and longer songs that call on your patience in letting the wine age and develop. The last cut and title track is epic. Ten minutes of echoing bliss. The song culminates into a powerful ending.
We are hopeful that in six or seven years, we are going to look back at JIRM's library of works and greatly appreciate the tenderness and precision put forth in Spirit Knife. JIRM takes well calculated risks on this album. While they toned down the psychedelia, they could have gone the route of more commercially viable music with shorter lengths and catchier melodies. Thankfully, they did not and have created eight very powerful songs that take time to appreciate. Stay with this one and put it on your heavy rotation. We know this will be a mainstay in our collection indefinitely