You know, it’s funny, some albums get fanfare and buzz for weeks. Then you get them to review or listen to as a fan and the reaction is – one of “is that it?”
On the other side of the coin, there’s ones like this. The third from Spiders. It just sort of appeared, sneaked out under the radar, if you will.
It’s like this. If “Killer Machine” was actually an assassin, it’d do its work with the greatest of stealth and precision and be in and out before you knew what had actually happened.
Which, to cut the flannel means the damn thing is absolutely brilliant.
The thumping lead of “Shock And Awe” is reminiscent of Alice Cooper in the early days, and acts as a precursor for what’s to come, because lets not kid ourselves here, the good people in Spiders haven’t yet been told that they’re in the 21st century, hell, they aren’t even sure the 70s has ended.
And that’s just fine especially when you’re dealing with songs as good as the exceptional “Dead Or Alive”. And to paraphrase Elton John, remember when Kiss were good? Yeah, so do Spiders and they helpfully show Paul and Gene the way it used to be here.
Let’s not kid ourselves that there’s anything avant-garde here – and more power to them given that most groundbreaking music is shit (hello Velvet Underground!) – instead, Spiders would rather perfect Hellacopters-esque rock n roll and call it “Burning For You”.
The title track is unabashed, unashamed to be in the thrall of the greats of the 70s, but on a more technical point it also proves that few bands can match the sheer power of Ann-Sofie Hoyles’ vocals and John Hoyles’ guitar, the couple have the musical closeness here too and the effect is stunning.
“Like A Wild Child” manages to get bonus points for starting with a solo and including cowbell – enough to put any song into the “wonderful” category. But this one also contains this line: “hey Mr. Dylan, times are changin’ but nothing’s happening except that you’re aging.” And the inference is clear in its relentless sound: the old guard ain’t gonna be here forever. You best move over.
There is an eerie nature to “Higher Spirits” that is not too far from Blues Pills, except that Spiders do things even here with a glam rock sheen. “Swan Song” on the other hand, has a real nose for trouble and there’s something dirty in its lead, and as for “So Easy” you’ll forgive us for mentioning Guns N Roses, but it has the same hint of danger that the near namesake of Axl and the chaps had.
All you need to know about Spiders, oddly is in the record’s only ballad. “Don’t Need You” is done on their own terms and builds slowly. But if that ends with a crescendo then “Take What You Want” starts with one. Glam rock in the style of “Ballroom Blitz” on most collections it’d be a highlight. Here it is one of many.
That even extends to the last one. “Heartbreak” is a change of pace, a change of vibe, perhaps and features Ann-Sofie saying that “you tried to lead me astray.” We’d wager that she can do that just fine herself, and that’s before the harmonica gives it a blues touch and the harmonies make a bid for arenas.
To use a boxing analogy, it is often said you can absorb the big punches, it’s the ones you don’t see coming that floor you. That, right there, is “Killer Machine”. There is something to behold in this Spiders web.