Witchy Occult Rock!
Band: Rough Spells
Album: Ruins at Midday
Release Date: February 2, 2020
Rough Spells hail from Toronto, Ontario, and describe their sound as “Witch n’ Roll, Doom, Psych Rock, and Queer,” and I think that pretty accurately describes their sound; all these bits rolled together to create a panorama of Occult Rock. They released their second album earlier this year, Ruins at Midday, and it carries on the sound they cultivated with their first record, expanding and growing those elements to create something truly progressive and sprawling.
First track “Ocean Mother” gets things going all Stonery and vibrational, that bass really rocking the speakers. Touches of Psych fill in the gaps, with some soulful guitar soloing, something you’ll find ubiquitous with this album. Track two is “Chance Magic,” and here they get that Doom gallop going, this song really swinging as it tumbles along, a true headbanger. “Children of the Moon” is where the weird stuff really starts, with an almost acapella beginning, underpinned by organ and amp feedback. And then it kicks in, rocking, sputtering, speeding forward before settling into a weird groove that is both heavy and hypnotic at the same time. “Die Before You Die” comes next, continuing that witchy vibe, this song feeling more and more like an invocation as it thrums along. A quiet and laidback vibe, you can feel the Pink Floyd in this one. “Grise Fiord” starts with a bassline that reminds me of “Flash Gordon” by Queen, but of course this song sounds nothing like that one. This is a solid rocker, with some of those sweet guitar melodies to carry it along on its gossamer wings. With “Pay Your Dues,” we’re rounding towards the finish of the album. This song brings back the heavy, the Doom, carried by those fabulous vocals and the tiny bits of Psych and melody that accentuate the riffs as they crush. “Nothing Left” is a pretty straight-up rocker, a headbobber, the kind of song that harkens back to the 70s with its Classic Rock feel and almost summery vibe. The title track is also the closing track, and it swaggers, carrying an apocalyptic feel, like the party is ending but nobody is quite ready to go home yet. There’s a burnt-out bluster here, the Psych really shining in the grooves. This could almost be considered an “epic” in its own way, even though it’s just barely five minutes long. It brings things to a lovely, ceremonial close.
So, are you into Psych Rock? Do you like heavy, Classic Rock that has a total witchy vibe? Dig melodic guitars played with soul? Love hearty, earthy, emotional vocals? Then come on down, Rough Spells has a new album you’re probably gonna really dig.