Spider God – Fly in the Trap Review

In January, The Sponge nearly broke this goddamn site with his review of Spider God’s album-of-covers, Black Renditions. Now that the dust has settled, two truths have emerged: First, Ken was completely sincere in his love for that album, and his great review perfectly mirrored those feelings. And second, I completely disagree with him. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t hate Black Renditions. I just thought (and still think) that an album of other people’s material should never score that highly. More importantly though, I thought the covers were uninspired. There was no great reimagining of classic pop tunes; no clever sonic sanding to change the contours and complexion of gems worn smooth from repeat plays. Rather, they were simply sped up and filtered through a black metal sieve, replete with monotonous vocals. Like gum, it was enjoyable, but I felt no need to rechew it. Now Spider God is back with their debut collection of fully original material in the form of Fly in the Trap. Is the site about to be broken again?

Fly in the Trap is a concept album focusing on the mysterious death of Elisa Lam, a young woman whose body was found submerged in a rooftop tank of her LA hotel in 2013. The circumstances around her death are unclear to this day, but it is a suitably macabre and mysterious topic for a black metal album. Each track offers a different perspective on the event, blending fact and fiction. Black Renditions showed the band’s affinity for late 20th century pop as viewed through a black metal lens, and a similar style is maintained here. The melodies are the driving force, and in an alternate universe, this could easily have been an indie pop staple of the type that cluttered up Pitchfork’s site for so long. So: tragedy, black metal, hyper-melodic pop metal: those are difficult ingredients to bring together, even for experienced bands. Spider God give it a good go…

… But truthfully, they only partially succeed. There is a vast disconnect between the subject matter and the music, which is perplexing. Fly in the Trap’s melodies and chords are generally upbeat and in the major key, which was great for syrupy boy band covers about wanting things that way, but is far less effective in conveying mystery and tragedy. Tracks like “The Hermit” and “Labyrinth of Hallways” are jarring in how similar they are structurally to the pop hits of old. I initially thought this contrast between style and subject matter was intentional: a way of highlighting each other because of the disconnect. But the band sells neither the parodic elements, nor the overt seriousness, nearly enough to convince me either way. Which ends up pulling me out of the mystery, rather than drawing me in.

The songs themselves range from airy and fun to slightly monotonous. Spider God’s great talent is taking light and airy melodies and riffs and metamorphosing them into convincing black metal. It should not be underestimated how difficult it is to do this skillfully, and very often, Fly in the Trap gets it spot on. When it works, you have absolute dynamite. “Flies in the Trap” is one of the best tracks of the year because the line between black metal and melody is traversed expertly. The downside is that some tracks fall flat, the light jauntiness unable to shoulder the heft the band is aiming for. This is further compounded by a one-dimensional vocal performance that barely fluctuates over Fly in the Trap. The good news is that, like the album itself, the singer gets better as the album progresses, resulting in a second half of the collection is notably better than the first.

Your enjoyment of Fly in the Trap will depend, to a large extent, on how persuaded you are by Spider God’s sound. If you loved Black Renditions, I suspect you will enjoy this, too. It’s fleet and fun and melody-driven. If, however, you found Renditions somewhat cloy and superficial, Fly in the Trap will do nothing to change your mind. A unique and fun sound, which worked well for breezy covers, stumbles in the face of more serious and challenging themes and ideas. If Black Renditions was a fun party, Fly in the Trap is the slightly disappointing come-down the next day.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Repose Records
Website: spider-god.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/spidergodband
Released Worldwide: November 11th, 2022

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