Spellcaster - Night Hides the WorldGood friends make life bearable. Good friends with good taste in music make life worth living. In a world where a friend could be a nobody you “friended” on Facebook, musical taste is the perfect decider for the real versus cyber friends. To be my friend, for instance, you must be able to recite King Diamond‘s “Black Horsemen” forward and backward without hesitation. Though this prevents my own mother from becoming my friend, I must hold to these standards. I’m fortunate, however, because I have many friends that share my exquisite taste in music. If this were not the case, I would not have stumbled across Spellcaster and their newest release, Night Hides the World. Suggested to me by a member of War CurseSpellcaster is a purveyor of the simple and the accessible. Fusing six-string details with strong vocals, these Portlanders combine Iron Maiden-esque hooks with Ghost-ish melody. So, sit back, stop unfriending people, and let Spellcaster‘s Night  douse your world.

Like the forgers of ’90s black metal, Spellcaster have an interesting career arc. Bands like Mayhem and Darkthrone dabbled in death metal for one release while Spellcaster once proclaimed themselves a thrash band. Debut Under the Spell screams of old-school, semi-prog thrash metal. The riffs are there (the production isn’t) and the high-wailing vocals have similarities to the first two Iced Earth releases. You know what that means. They kinda sucked. Tyler Loney then moved from guitar to vocals for the follow-up and the Spellcaster I know and love was born. The self-titled sophomore release blew the debut apart like a sadistic bunny from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And Night Hides the World is the proper successor to Spellcaster. The vocals are stronger, the songwriting is more mature, and fans of the band will be ecstatic.

Night Hides the World gets things rolling right away with the upbeat and accessible “Aria.” The drums launch us into staccato guitar pluckings and almost Matt Heafy-like vocal arrangements. The vocals are a unique flavoring that don’t represent the rest of the album, but  they wouldn’t hurt it either. “Aria” provides a first glimpse at the band’s ability to hammer out a riff in unison before the guitars take off in separate directions. These directions complete the song without meandering into the proggy or wanky. Throughout the record, their exists a main guitar lead that gets covered in beautiful melodies by the remaining guitar. This approach appears on every song, and the hookiness of the album is the direct result of this formula. There’s also just enough originality from track to track to avoid any staleness.

“The Lost Ones,” much like the opener, displays the band’s patented mix of groove and melody. The song’s intro smells like Ghost, but doesn’t reek of it. Its groove and verses definitely have that Ghost-like attitude, but when the chorus arrives, it unloads crate after crate of soaring emotion. Once the crates crack under the weight, their potent contents help shape follow-up “Betrayal” into the most passionate track on the album.  This, along with closer “Prophecy,” are enough to make me buy the album. Long and epic, these songs house the album’s best riffs and best vocal performances. Loney’s alternating heavy-metal wails and doomy cleans play off the instruments in the most satisfying way.

Spellcaster 2016

“I Live Again” picks up the pace once more, acting as a B-side opener. Its simple, yet kickass, riffage takes hold and never lets go. The lead eventually breaks, but only to allow the beautiful chorus to take its place. Though there isn’t a bad track on the album, ditties like the title track and “The Accuser” lack punch. Their repetition is just enough to make their short run-times feel long.

Night Hides the World has a lot to offer. It’s soothing yet engaging, the performances are stellar, and the songwriting is simple—even if the actual fret-board theatrics aren’t. The bass has just as much presence as the guitars (check out “Night Hides the World”) and the drums are exacting. The latter is capable of cruising with soaring choruses and staring down chugging riffs. And the guitars? They fucking shred. Be it the soloing and synchronized maelstrom of “The Moon Doors” or the beauty of “Betrayal,” these boys can do it all. If only the dynamics were there so you could absorb the album’s subtleties. Regardless, this is an awesome release and the perfect follow-up to Spellcaster.


Rating: Very Good!
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Prosthetic Records
Websites: spellcasterpdx.bandcamp.com | spellcaster.us | facebook.com/SpellcasterPDX
Releases Worldwide: July 8th, 2016

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  • This is pretty rocking stuff.

  • The singer reminds me of Don Dokken but cooler somehow.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I was going to write that in the review but left it alone haha.

  • This sounds great! It’s retro metal without being retro! But we definintely need a dynamic vinyl mix. Can someone get AMG on that ASAP?

  • [not a Dr]

    Reciting King Diamond’s Black Horsemen backwards… Wouldn’t that just yield a Led Zeppelin song?

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Silence!

      • [not a Dr]

        So there they stood at the top of the stairs

        Miriam in the mood, Jonathan was scared

        Gazing into the dark, Jonathan saw the star

        For a second he turned his back

        And she was there like a ghost

        She pushed him hard and clean

        To the bottom of the stairs.

        And she’s bu-u-ying a stairway… to heaven…

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          I hate you a little right now…

          • You’re certainly not making any new friends here.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            I was never good at that.

  • Neb Bojer

    Is this a song about War Boys?

    Edit: I’m really digging this.

  • ahhhhg how in the hell do we keep getting Ghost comparisons when Ghost is a BÖC clone? Does this band claim Ghost? Christ, that’s like saying you were inspired by Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise without knowing who Stevie Wonder is.

    Meanwhile, this band reminds me of Satan. The band. Not our dark master.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      The Ghost comparison is there because that song does sound more like Ghost than BOC. They are a clone but do have a little uniqueness to them.

      Oh, dammit. Now I’m listening to Satan’s new album… Again.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        As you damn well should. RUINATIOOOOON!!!

        • brklyner

          So good!

    • This sounds more like “Amish Paradise.”

    • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

      Ghost isn’t really a BOC clone, despite the influence. The vocals are much different, they lean much more heavily on organ riffs, the first record mostly draws from the 80’s BOC stuff, and the other two barely sound like them at all.

      Calling them a “clone” is really stretching.

      • Yeah I can’t agree that Meloria barely sounds like 80s BOC. Ghost obviously loves Fire of Unknown Origin.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Not gonna lie, this is pretty passable if y’ask me. The production is completely flat thus ruining any punch the songs might have.

    Maybe next time.

    • The embedded track isn’t as solid as some of the other cuts. It sounds pretty good to me.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Strong vocals indeed. What a set of pipes. Ah, to be young and talented.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Were one to set sail on the good ship Kind Diamond, what would you recommend as the first port of call?

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Oh boy!!!!!!! Well, Abigail (which has “Black Horsemen”) is my all-time favorite. Lots of reverb, so be warned. The Them and Conspiracy albums are a part 1 and 2 story, and are great. But if you want some modern sound (and not liking all that reverb), bump up to The Puppetmaster. That one is awesome. Try those and then we can chat.

      • I’d say start with the first 2 Mercyful Fate albums, then go to Abigail, The Portrait and Them in that order.

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          True. You have to listen to Melissa and Don’t Break the Oath.

        • [not a Dr]

          Them is a masterpiece. From the moment grandma knocks at the door like she was Mikkey Dee to that [spoiler prevented] phone call at the end. I love the feeling of helplessness and despair in Mother’s Getting Weaker.
          The follow-up, Conspiracy, also works well on its own. I acquired them in reverse order, so Them was like reading a (kick-ass) prequel to an awesome story.

        • Monsterth Goatom

          Listening to Melissa now. Wow, this is from 1983? Could have been released last week, except the recording quality is higher. Interestingly, I was listening to Enforcer’s From Beyond just prior to this, and the similarity in vocal style is striking in places, especially in terms of Testicle Abusing VocalsTM. Good stuff.

          • You’re just hearing those Mercyful Fate albums now?? 2 week site ban for ignoring 2 of the best albums in metal history!

          • Monsterth Goatom

            Fair enough. And if I were to say I prefer Blaze Bayley to Bruce Dickinson, would that be a lifetime ban?

          • Undoubtedly.

          • Monsterth Goatom

            Good to know. I’ll make sure I don’t say that.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Thanks Dr! I shall start my journey.

    • [not a Dr]

      I agree with the Doctor’s prescription: Abigail is completely awesome.
      My introduction to King Diamond was The Eye, which is set during the times of the French Inquisition and has 2 story arcs. the song Burn has a special place in that empty space that used to contain my soul.

      • I love “Burn” and especially “The Eye.” I listened to that album a lot in my drunken college days. I still find myself singing the chorus to “Burn” anytime I see a bonfire or anything vaguely pyre-ish.

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          I love “Burn.” A top ten song for me.

        • [not a Dr]

          The Curse is my anniversary song. My girlfriend and I got together while drinking wine in her car, parked next to a cemetary by an abandoned church.
          During a thunderstorm.
          While listening to The Eye.
          On the 1st of May.
          Most metal relationship EVER.

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            Keeper

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Thanks, man. I look forward to the journey.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Mercyful Fate

  • junkyhead

    What a great surprise. This is quite good. Gonna listen to the whole record.

  • Berit Dogg

    Hopefully we will now get to claim rmetal cred via our mothers again! My mother doesn’t know shit about King Diamond but I guarantee she can beat your lame-ass mommies at scrabble any time.

    • [not a Dr]

      Not with the “optional” rule that states that you have to explain how each word is related to King Diamond or lose your turn.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      My mom uses Scrabble (and all board games) and kindling for winter fires. She has an anger problem…

      • Berit Dogg

        You win!

  • RDGEEK

    Another win for Prosthetic.

  • Hmm. The music is very cool, but the production is far too shiny and makes it sound far less energetic than it should. And the vocals… He needs a good vocal producer I think, the delivery has no passion or variety at the moment. It’s totally soulless. But there’s definitely potential.

  • It’s been driving me nuts trying to figure out who these guys remind me of and I finally figured it out. Cauldron!

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Well, I’ll be damned.

  • Jared Kiess

    Good review… but the first album rules. Gotta disagree with ya there.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Think my problem was starting from the new stuff and going back. If I had heard the first album when it came out, I may have liked it better.

      • Jared Kiess

        Fair enough

  • jetblindracos

    This sounds like The Offspring metallized by IM.You say they

    have another album,I think it’s time to go hunting.Thanks.

  • Innit Bartender

    In my totally-honest, yet totally-irrational and completely-subjective method of “liking” a band based on the band photo published on AMG, the no-shit-tour-van-late-night photo certainly gets a thumbs up.
    So reviewers, be aware of the terrible responsibility you hold in your hand…

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I found that photo just for that very reason. It is also a good representation of the band. It’s a perfect photo.

  • bwat47

    love these guys

  • bwat47

    I totally disagree with their first album sucking, it was some solid speed metal imo

    The new album is reminding me a bit of holy grail

  • Solrac Avan

    To think that I almost bought it blindly a few days ago, how foolish I was. Glad I corrected that mistake, Betrayal and Night Hides The World are my favourite, and despite the similarities to Ghost or Iron Maiden as the Good Dr. Suggested, the album as a whole is not a mashup of pre-existing tunes and styles, but its own thing