As any true devotee will recognise, the creation of heavy metal that genuinely chills the blood and raises the goosebumps is about more than carefully constructed stylistic posturing, more than slavish devotion to the diabolus-in-musica rulebook, and more than a devotedly purchased vinyl collection of crypt-kicking classics. It’s a feeling, an atmosphere, and an attitude that together prove hard to quantify, and even harder for the casually acquainted to summon. No such worries for Vancouver’s Spell however, who display on their second full-length and Bad Omen Records debut For None And All that they’re in possession of more heart, chutzpah and sinister sleight-of-hand than a dozen of their contemporaries.
Spell, a power-trio comprising Cam Mesmer (lead vocals/bass) Graham McVie (guitars/backing vocals) and Lester Spectre (drums/backing vocals) started out life as Stryker (not to be confused with Striker, the other Canadian metal band who released records on Napalm Records), playing ‘80s-inspired and thrash-damaged metal, before they made the decision to change their moniker to better reflect the more oracular style that was evolving in splendid isolation in British Columbia. “I like the mysterious sort of mood that the name ‘Spell’ sets” explains Cam. “So much of this world is focused on elucidating, deciphering, explaining the world around us. That’s too analytical and pedantic for me. I believe there is just as much value in mystifying, shrouding, cyphering. The only real truth is one you arrive at yourself, so it won’t help if I tell you what to think. Take what you want from it. I’d like Spell to be a force in that direction.”
Looming into the darker quarters of the consciousness like some gloriously nightmarish analgam of the mystical ambience of the ‘70s and the jagged attack of the ‘80s, For None And All makes no secrets of the classics that have informed its feverish drive, yet Mesmer insists that the band see themselves as a contemporary beast. “Although obviously we love 70’s bands and idealize a time when rock ‘n roll could be loud and weird and unique and experimental without being so self-conscious, we don’t consider ourselves to be a throwback or pastiche act in any way” Indeed, whilst the discerning listener will be able to hear traces of the mystical aura of Blue Öyster Cult and the seductive contortions of King Crimson and Rush on For None And All, and also the malevolent and righteous bravura that Judas Priest and Scorpions made manifest throughout the ages, what Spell excel in more so is a suspension of disbelief that transforms these infectious psychodramas and tales of the supernatural into a turbulent and tempestuous psychic shockwave that raises pulse-rates as easily as it haunts the dreams.
“If there’s a horror element to our sound, it’s because the world is a horrifying (and wonderful) place” reckons Mesmer. “We all struggle to find ways to nail down some meaning or rationalization to explain why we’re here suffering, but I don’t really believe in this. Existing is terrifying – be terrified, and love that terror.” Make no mistake, this is a band with a formidable grasp on their chosen metier, and their self-styled ‘hypnotising heavy metal – as chronicled on For None And All – is a delirious and life-affirming elixir indeed.