Before we begin, allow me to digress and give a bit of background on the monstrosity that is Spitfire, because I want to get some things out of the way immediately. On their first album, The Dead Next Door, the band was vastly different from the current incarnation. This was 1999 or so; the record was recorded with Steve Evetts (Snapcase, Hatebreed) and Jessie Smith of Zao/Gods fame. By the time the Sideshow Whiplash EP emerged in 2001, the band was beginning to resemble more closely what the band currently exhibits. Jon Spencer of Scarlet joined the band on vocals for this record. Unfortunately, this EP was plagued by poor production and the band disbanded soon after its release. So, if we were to leave the story there, Spitfire could be described as a band that showed hints of promise that gave it up before realizing their potential. Fast forward a few years and we see Jon Spencer's other band, Scarlet, signs to Ferret Records and releases Cult Classic. The album is received fairly well and the band immensely gains in popularity. In the interim between that record and Scarlet's next album, Spitfire does a reunion show with Dan Tulloh of Scarlet on guitar, Scottie Henry of Norma Jean on guitar, and Spencer once again on vocals. This revamped lineup enjoys it so much that they decide to write a new record; Tulloh and Spencer leave Scarlet to focus on this task.
Phew, I am truly sorry for the long winded history lesson, but it needed to be done. Let us recap. Spitfire breaks up, reunites, records new album, and Self-Help is the result. There it is quick and easy. This record is a metalcore lover's wet dream. Pulsing rhythms, manic guitars, and ironic vocals are all here. I expected to hear the obligatory kitchen sink sample, but alas, it was absent. Spencer's lyrics are pretty funny and pick up where he left off on Cult Classic. There is even a song that is a sequel of sorts from one on Cult Classic called "The Suicide Cult Is Dead". I do, however, urge you to stop thinking of this as just another metalcore record even if it is exactly that. It might be one of the best albums that this increasingly vapid and tired musical genre has produced in years.
Spitfire made Self-Help stand out from the pack of dollar sign eyed metalcore sycophants by going completely over the top. Not a single whine tinged cry baby clean vocal exists on this album. The band goes for the throat to get a visceral, super catchy record that flows smoothly from start to finish. It contains no glaring flaws but delivers several excellent tracks that bear repeated listens and recognition.
"Meat Market" is the lead off track. This song lays down a pretty aggressive groove, and the lyrics are humorous, "I met my brother at the trough today/ He tasted good". Who writes stuff like this? "Go Ape" has a heavy droning guitar part that would be hypnotizing if the song wasn't so schizophrenic sounding. "Dear John" is very chaotic and noisy. It has a plethora of parts that run headlong into each other with reckless abandon. "Leap of Faith" is the best song on the record. Its lyrics are dripping with sarcasm and accent the music really well. The song is put together better than most on the album and continues the million part a minute agenda that the writing direction seems to go; but it is all tied together by a pounding rhythm. "The Suicide Cult Is Dead", the track which I alluded to earlier, is another good track. I think that the idea of answering or ending a lyrical idea from a previous song or band works here.
After listening to this more that a few times, I think that it is a killer record coming from an overly tired sub genre. In fact, in my opinion, it outshines either of the members' higher profile associated bands' latest efforts. Followers of the metalcore genre should eat this record up. If people can get past their reservations regarding anything like this, they would find a good record. However, due to my acrimony toward anything from its genre, Self-Help gets the obligatory point and a half off for its association with the term metalcore. Sorry guys. Great effort.
6.5 / 10
Posted Jan. 2, 2008, 11:02 a.m.
Spitfire have posted a new song titled "Crossed" online here. The song is taken from their new album, Cult Fiction, which is the follow-up to 2006's Self-Help.
Posted May 17, 2006, 1:52 p.m.
Spitfire's video for the song "Life and Limb" can be viewed online here.
Posted Sept. 19, 2005, 2:14 a.m.
Spitfire have signed with Goodfellow Records. The group is currently writing a new full-length album and have tentatively titled the album Self-Help, slated for an early 2006 release.
Looking for the SPB logo? You can download it in a range of styles and colours here:
Click anywhere outside this dialog to close it, or press escape.