Spite Extreme Wing
Vltra

I first noticed this band several years ago, during a marathon research trip into the black metal underworld – a frustrating venture that touched on over a hundred bands, but produced little in the way of actual gems. Spite Extreme Wing was one of the exceptions – a sharp, angular black metal outfit from Italy that, despite a heavy lean towards the classic Norweigan sound of bands like Satyricon and Gorgoroth, was able to forge its own identity as well.

In fact, to further distinguish themselves from their forebears, Spite Extreme Wing refers to itself as anti-depressive black metal, which is kind of an oxymoron. This is by no means happy black metal – no major chords here – but Spite Extreme Wing‘s songwriting features a distinctly triumphant, rousing vibe that you usually hear from Viking black metal. While the strong, confident melodies on Vltra don’t evoke that same imagery, there was something familiar about them… I just couldn’t put my finger on it.

Then, partway through the epic, 9-minute “II,” it dawned on me. Maybe it’s just the Italian connection, but the melodies and transcendent, heroic vibe in that track, as well as on others throughout Vltra, are surprisingly reminiscent of Ennio Morricone’s timeless themes from Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns. Yes, the ones with Clint Eastwood. The wistful loneliness of those films surfaces in other ways too, from the acoustic jangle and sauntering bassline of “VIII” to the whistle-like motif (shades of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly) at the end of “II.” Now, I highly doubt Spite Extreme Wing set out to write A Fistful of Black Metal, but once identified, that fantasy only increased my enjoyment of this already impressive record, so I’m sticking with it.

In addition to the classic black metal melodies and blastbeats employed on Vltra, there’s also a healthy undercurrent of punk that surfaces from time to time. It’s especially noticeable on the frantic, scrambling “IV,” but it reveals itself in more indirect fashions as well. On “V,” for instance, the galloping melody and the lone guitar line that rises above it recalls a distinctly surf punk vibe, as if Spite Extreme Wing has suddenly become the black metal version of The Ventures. Whether intentional or not, this surf-black metal sound is so unexpected that an entire album’s worth would be very welcome.

It’s also worth noting how balanced and accomplished Spite Extreme Wing‘s sound is on Vltra. It’s at once raw and jagged, but also clean enough to let each element stand on its own. Keyboards, when used, are there to echo and accentuate the mood that the guitar and bassline have already created, and not to draw attention to themselves. Vocals are a midtone rasp, mixed slightly below the guitars, and expressive without ever becoming theatrical. They’re more a percussive element than anything, but they fit perfectly with the whole, and the fact that the lyrics are delivered in Italian just adds to the authenticity.

In short, this is another top-quality release for Spite Extreme Wing. Disappointing too, since they’ve announced that Vltra will be their last. At least they ride off into the sunset with their heads held high. Don’t miss this one.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
August 10th, 2008

Comments

  1. Commented by: Dimaension X

    I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who thinks this album is the missing link between Dick Dale and Mayhem. This is one great album – interesting and melodic, downright catchy and well produced without being overproduced. I’d love to see a new spaghetti western that uses these guys to compose their soundtrack.


  2. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    This is a good album-i have to review it elsewhere and im enjoying it


  3. Commented by: gabaghoul

    cool looking fwd to reading your take. I haven’t seen any other reviews of this album online.


  4. Commented by: Erik Thomas
  5. Commented by: gabaghoul

    black metal spaghetti western vs Praetorian war march, heh. be funny to send both reviews to the band and see what their reactions to our interpretations are.


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