As I peered deeply into the cover of SPEAKER’s latest release Murder and Create (released November 10th, 2017), trying to decipher what exactly was going on in the image, I was reminded of a quote from one of my favourite films This is Spinal Tap. When talking about their latest release Smell the Glove ( the greatest album title ever!) and how black the cover is, Spinal Tap guitarist Nigel Tufnel opines, “It’s like, ‘how much more black could this be?’ and the answer is ‘None. None more black.’” The music follows suit, and in addition to being dark, is unapologetically heavy, bleak and sinister.
SPEAKER, made up of Liam, Matt, Adam and Marc-Anthony, open Murder and Create with a rager, “Plaster.” It begins with the lines “Stomach acid filling my throat, stomach acid burning my throat,” fitting in those squealing, abrasive guitars and gut-wrenching drum barrages that gave me a strong sense of experiencing acid reflux. SPEAKER should reach out to Zantac about getting this song in one of their commercials. The vocals are punchy and raucous, akin to those of Jens Kidman (singer of Meshuggah). SPEAKER continues the theme on “Catch 22,” “Conscious Sleep” and “Cocoon,” with prominently angular and off-kilter riffs over chaotic drumming. While the songs don’t offer much in the way of variety, SPEAKER seems consistent and adept at making your ears bleed.
However, there are a few instances on Murder and Create that change the pace slightly. “Bleach” ventures into hardcore punk territory and has some fist-raising verses and a blood-boiling pace. The last song on the EP, “Eve” is slower and more plodding than the other tracks. It’s also much longer at over six minutes. Though I have to admit again, it sounds strikingly similar to a Meshuggah song. A slow drone that builds into a heavier climax, “Eve” serves as a nice track to finish on and like “Bleach,” displays the band changing things up a bit.
Murder and Create ultimately feels a bit too “comfortable” for me. I will always applaud risk taking and diversification on any given work over patterning; especially when it comes to metal, where I find imitation to be most prominent. For instance, Spinal Tap opted for a total rebranding as a freestyle jazz fusion act in “This is Spinal Tap.” That’s probably not the best direction for SPEAKER (it didn’t work out for Spinal Tap either), but I think a few risks here and there, or maybe a slight dynamic shift could do wonders.
Written by Lee Ferguson
*edited by Lia Davis