What a pleasant surprise this EP is! If you’re a fan of proto-metal/retro rock, this Swedish band is not to be missed. They could definitely be lumped in with the “occult rock” category, but I feel the songwriting and production is better than most of that ilk. The five tunes here are genuinely well crafted and should appeal to fans of diverse acts like JETHRO TULL, BLUE ÖYSTER CULT, OPETH, ALAN PARSONS PROJECT and URIAH HEEP.
The sound is organic hard rock from the heart of the ’70s. ‘The Shape of Shadows’ starts things off with a driving, guitar-oriented tune. Thomas Clifford is an excellent singer and the vocal hooks are engaging. ‘Sanguine Spirits’ is in the same vein but has more of a mystical, ghostly feel. The sadness hinted at in that tune comes to full flowering on the haunting ballad ‘The Ailing Hour’, which has such a melancholy feel as well as some absolutely beautiful female vocals. Despite its softer moments, it is still quite a dark song. ‘Spirit of the Wild’ is a lively rocker with a lot of crunch, somewhat like PENTAGRAM. Argante ends with the brooding ‘Absentia’, which has overtones of URIAH HEEP and some cool narration that sets up an occult tale. The guitar work throughout this record is exemplary and the production is natural and unobtrusive.
This is primarily going to be of interest to prog and occult rock fans, but I could see THE SIGIL reaching GHOST-like proportions. I’d love to hear a full length from this band!
Review By: Dr. Abner Mality