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Spiders: Shake Electric *

Album Notes

The sophomore long-player from the Swedish retro-metal unit, Shake Electric sounds like it was pulled out of a time capsule that was buried sometime around 1976. A gritty, smoke-filled stadium blend of "Magic Man"-era Heart and classic New Wave of British Heavy Metal (with a little Runaways, Black Sabbath, and Girlschool tossed in for good measure), the ten-track set is unapologetically nostalgic for the days of feathered hair, heavily studded wrist bands, and pants that required two people to put on, but it's also delivered with gusto, due in large part to the powerful pipes of dreamy, golden-maned frontwoman Ann-Sofie Hoyles, who possesses both chops and charm. Spiders' penchant for blues-kissed, midtempo, working-class hard rock with a psychedelic twist goes a little against type, as their hometown of Gothenburg is the undisputed capital of the Swedish death metal scene, but there's a darkness that lurks behind moody cuts like "Only Your Skin" and "War of the World" that suggests the band isn't immune to the long winters and overcast skies that come with the territory. Still, there is a lot of cowbell and there are enough lip-biting guitar solos to draw blood, which means that anybody looking for a glimpse of what the future of hard rock/heavy metal may hold will come away with more questions than answers. Even so, standout cuts like the bruising opener "Mad Dog," the punk-fueled "Control," and the soulful, Nazareth-inspired "Hard Times" are solid enough that they avoid kitsch, despite their myriad Spinal Tap trappings. ~ James Christopher Monger


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