SPARZANZA – IN VOODOO VERITAS (KABUKI RECORDS 2009)

REVIEW BY KASSU KORTELAINEN / OCTOBER 2009

There’s a sinister smile upon the face of the voodoo doll sitting on the cover of Sparzanza’s new album. And sinister is also ‘In Voodoo Veritas’ beginning – catchy, thick riff of ‘The Blind Will Lead The Blind’ cuts the air while singer Fredrik Weileby sneers menacing lyrics with a menacing voice; ‘One by one they’re gonna fall from the skies / Wing clipped by their holy god, to be welcomed by the prince of lies’… the riff grows stronger, second verse deepens the story and then a melodic, heavy and contagious chorus comes out from the darkness…

…I guess it was around this point I was hooked.

Sparzanza comes from Sweden, and though ‘In Voodoo Veritas’ is already their fourth album, they have managed to fly under my radar until recently when I was adviced to give them a try. Hats off to that suggestion, as since then Sparzanza albums have been spinning in my stereos more than any other CD in a long time. A view on their latest output, might explain why.

Sparzanza’s got a good bag of tricks to cook their musical brew with. As ‘In Voodoo Veritas’ proves, the band has good lyrics, good playing, good songwriting and an ability to combine catchy melodies, raw thrashy parts and powerful riffs together seamlessly, without losing the overall heaviness that binds the album together. The band’s usually categorized as stoner rock, and while that is a fitting classification, they have much more grasping points than most bands in that genre. The use of brilliant choruses and increased amount of melodies take them away from what most of the stoner bands sound like, yet the heaviness and chunkiness of good stoner rock are also strongly present. The most important aspect, though – is the fact that Sparzanza manages to sound like Sparzanza, not as some generic heavy rock ‘n metal band.

A big part of the songs are the riffs and vocals, both very strong and well used. There isn’t too much room for fancy soloing, but when a solo is needed it is delivered. Guitarist Calle Johannesson executes his riffs in perfect unison with the vocals, that Fredrik Weileby delivers in a plausible fashion ranging his singing between clean powerful singing and thrashy roars. Bass and drums (by Johan Carlsson and Anders Åberg, respectively) build the background with synchronized accuracy and jolt the songs with groove and depth.

As for the songs, there would be a lot to say about every one of them, but let’s keep the runthrough brief enough. Track #2 ‘Gone’ is another good example of Sparanza’s effectiveness in constructing a gripping tune – the verses are carried on with basically only bass chops and drums setting the scene, and when the meaty riff jumps in – the effect is really powerful. Harsh shouts of ‘Rise!’ combined with another melodic chorus have a similar way to accetuate the impact of the song.

One of the albums higlights: ‘Black Gemini’ employs the same trick as do the video single ‘Methadream’ and vicious ‘Red Dead Revolver’. Meanwhile ‘My World Of Sin’ turns the pace down a bit like a ballad for the damned and meanest and rawest cut here: ‘Robota’ hammers it’s way deep into the listener’s subconsciousness.

At the end part of the album, ‘Bloodline’ flows effortleslly and welds excellent vocal melodies, badass riff and pumping background shouts into a vehicle that’s on a joyride to hell. ‘Self Medication’ is rawer and more monotonous stuff than the rest and despite gripping flow on the verses drops a notch below it’s companions. On an album filled with great songs some always get trampled under the best; for me ‘Self Medication’, ‘On The Other Side’ and ‘The End Of Days’ suffer from that but still it can be said that there are no weak spots or fillers on ‘In Voodoo Veritas’.

The album ends with style with ‘The Poison’ that sports again a nifty chorus but really takes flight with it’s great bridge ‘It’s today or tomorrow, and I feel so fucking hollow, and I wish that I was born again’ – one of the best moments on the album, saved for the last highlight.

Comparing Sparzanza to other bands is actually quite pointless as they have managed to carve their own niche in the metallic heavy rock scene… touches of bands like Spiritual Beggars, Down, COC and the like can be heard but for example ‘Robota’ – on the other hand – has a structure that could be transformed into a Rob Zombie or Marilyn Manson song with a little less ‘organic’ handling. Like said in the beginning – Sparzanza sounds like Sparzanza.

Might as well declare it – ‘In Voodoo Veritas’ is the best album of the year. Of course there’s still a couple of months to go, but if anyone’s going to push it from the pedestal they need to come up with a true masterpiece.

4halfk

sparzanza_ivv

1. The Blind Will Lead The Blind
2. Gone
3. Black Gemini
4. My World Of Sin
5. Robota
6. Methadream
7. On The Other Side
8. Red Dead Revolver
9. Bloodline
10. The End Of Days
11. Self Medication
12. The Poison

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About Kassu Kortelainen