Originating from the Polish city of Gdansk, conceptual rock three-piece SPITFISH formed in 2016 as the solo brainchild of vocalist and bassist Boris Karloff. Released in October 2018, their latest album Penny Dreadful blends a heavier 90s industrial tone with darker mysterious, horror elements, big guitar, huge riffs and traditional rock energy. In short, it is a great testament to the fact that sometimes, Europeans just do rock better than us North Americans.
Penny Dreadful kicks off with “Into The Void,” a 30-second intro which sounds like it came straight out of a tense scene in the original Nightmare on Elm Street wherein someone is being chased down a dark alleyway and is about to die a brutal but cheesy death. In an utterly unexpected shift, the album then swings into the rock and roll nightmare tone that continues throughout the proceeding tracks. With no shortage of stand-alone catchy riffs such as that in “Lost,” strong basslines like that in “Big Black,” solid drumming, and various surprisingly unpredictable dracula-esque undertones, SPITFISH makes for a bold and energetic trio worth a listen.
Despite this praise, when I first listened to their cover of “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black),” I was a bit nervous for the band as it is almost impossible to cover Neil Young in a way that does him the proper justice. However, their bold choice actually isn’t too bad – which is saying a lot. This track is one of their tightest as a band, and while they don’t stray too far from the original, Karloff’s vocals evoke a 90s feel in a weird mix of Trent Reznor and the singer from Marcy Playground – at best, it’s an enticing combo.
Peaking with my personal favourite track, “Swallow the Dust” (which includes the best solo on the album) Penny Dreadful is not overly dynamic. In this case, that is not a bad thing. Appeasing my insatiable desire for guitar-driven rock best listened to at full volume, 80s horror films, and 90s grit, SPITFISH offer a solid, lasting classic style that has the potential to lay the groundwork for a long, successful musical career.
Written by Jordan Hodgins
*edited by Mike Milito