|Review: Spider God - Fly in the Trap|
|Fly in the Trap|
Label: Repose Records
Year released: 2022
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: December 27, 2022
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
for:Fly in the Trap
Rated 4.75/5 (95%) (8 Votes)
There's a pretty broad consensus in the metal community that pop music is inherently bad, a consensus which is understandable if you only look at what tops charts in years past and present. However, there's a shocking amount that can be done with the fundamentals of the style to make worthwhile music, it's just paradoxically not the most popular kind of pop music. Despite that, I don't have much taste for it, and I still believe that pop and metal tend not to work well together without one overriding the other, but I've been having that preconception challenged pretty fucking hard this year.
I bring all that up to explain why my spider senses went nutshit when I heard of Spider God, a black metal band with a very upfront and obvious pop influence to their sound. They got some positive attention with their Black Renditions cover album, which took various pop songs and reimagined them into black metal, and while I'll admit the translation from one to the other was shockingly convincing and inventive, it was still based on songwriting I have a fundamental issue with, so I approached this with trepidation. Well, here I am to eat a full murder of crows as I admit that their sophomore album, Fly in the Trap, is not only a resounding success in marrying two opposed styles, but also one of this year's very best albums.
The funny thing is that poppy songwriting aesthetics in black metal aren't new, as more than a few bands considered that the strummy guitar style found in certain kinds of pop music has a lot in common with the tremolo riffing often used in black metal and make music with that in mind, typically in post black metal. This album differs by not only having practically no traces of post, but also introducing those elements on a deeper level than most bands bother with, all without sacrificing the intensity and atmosphere that defines the black metal. In fact, the major key guitar melodies and trilling keyboard melodies exist to energize the often-blistering compositions with addictive melodies and give them a sense of uneasy urgency, which is fitting for its story based on the mysterious death of Elisa Lam back in 2013. These elements both complement with the blasting drums and harsh shrieks in the faster moments and serve as really strong contrast for them when the songs slow down, leading to some actually catchy and memorable choruses in songs like "A Thousand Lonely Spiders" and the haunting "Labyrinth of Hallways".
I really feel like I'm painting a target on my back for giving a perfect score to an album that sounds dreadful on paper, but trust me when I say Spider God understand what makes both styles work and combines them to make something exciting and novel in a way lesser bands would clumsily fumble in the most embarrassing way. I'm just as shocked to say this as you are to read it, but Fly in the Trap is one of this year's very best not in spite of its pop influences, but directly because of them.
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