Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Imperial Anthems - Spiritus Mortis vs Pale Divine, Vol 6

Opus number 6 in Cyclone Empire's 'Imperial Anthems' 7" series, is a very exciting split from Spiritus Mortis and Pale Divine originally released in 2011.  Limited to 500 hand numbered copies and on blood red vinyl, both bands do one track each covering Deep Purple. Not an easy task, if you ask me. Recording someone elses work is tricky business, and oftentimes fall flat because the outcome is a note-by-note-perfect rendition, with little to none soul nor imagination. In my opinion, when you do a cover song, make sure the listener knows who the originator is but put your stamp on. Be a little creative and take wide turns. So, how do these two bands fare in this outing? Well, why did I even doubt the quality of this 7" to be nothing but amazing? Shame on me because we are after all talking about Spiritus Mortis and the mighty Pale Divine!

Spiritus Mortis has the honour to initiate the proceedings with a ballsy, groovy and badass version of the Purple classic, 'Black Night'. One that has been covered countless times before, the Finns certainly step out of the box and shake things up a little bit. Actually not too far off from the original version, small things here and there tweaks the song and pushes it in the right direction, making it better than most versions I have heard. Sami Hynninen does a great job on vocals, hitting the high notes with ease but in his more gruff style and that alone sets it apart. Mixing their own Finnish-style doom with the sweet sounds of early 70's rock, the rest of the band, from the guitars and bass to the drums and the organ, simply kills. Wonderful!

One of my all-time favourite bands, Pale Divine, opts for a "lesser known" Purple song, if you will. Messieurs Diener and McCloskey take on 'Bloodsucker' which is a very bold move. Although in-yer-face and psychedelic in its original version with a solo interchange between Blackmore and Lord, Pale Divine sure keeps the in-yer-face attitude but speeds it up slightly. And having no organ parts added their version has been elegantly altered, all while Greg Diener plays all the solo parts brilliantly. I've said it before that Darin McCloskey's fantastic drumming reminds me so much of Brian Downey and Ian Paice, and here he shows why. Care-free, technical and groovy he puts his mark on Mr. Paice's parts. As a long time fan of these Pennsylvanians, I regard this track as a turning point for the band. Greg has always been the guitarist and singer for them. On their previous full-length, 'Cemetery Earth' he had changed his almost bashful singing approach, to a more gutsy attitude. 'Bloodsucker' demands an incredible effort from any vocalist and holy hell, Greg does an amazing job here. It sounds like he has his ball sack caught in a forever turning vise, hitting the heights of Ian Gillan. To get to my point, to me the way he sings here paid off in abundance, here and on their next full-length, 'Painted Windows Black', where he took his vocal performance to a completely new level. By the way, did I say this is a truly fantastic, one-of-a-kind version? No, well it is, you hear!

As far as a 7” split goes, I doubt it can be any better than this. Actually, regardless the format this single is top notch. Both bands brings their very best and turns this to a joyful exciting listening experience every time I play it. I honestly don't know if Cyclone Empire has any copies left, but it's a must-have so contact them, or the bands if they have any. Or send out feelers to track a copy down elsewhere and become a proud owner, dear wave riders.

- Swedebeast

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