The debut album from Downspirit really took me by surprise! Knowing absolutely nothing about any of the musicians' previous band experiences, I really didn't know what to expect when I received Point of Origin in the mail. When I put the album in the CD player for my first spin I was blown away! The unique combination of traditional heavy metal and blues music instantly intrigued me, and the catchy, yet intricate compositions kept me constantly coming back for more. Not to mention the fantastic musicianship, production, or even the beautifully designed Digipak artwork. Needless to say, Point of Origin will be very high on my 2010 top album list.
The music that Downspirit plays is a very unique combination of blues, traditional heavy metal, and even some metalcore tendencies. If you're a naysayer to extreme metal, you may be wondering where the metalcore influence appears. Steffen Lauth occasionally (let me repeat the word "occasionally") does metalcore/growl vocal-style to be used as a contrast between his two vocal styles, and it's mostly used as an effect. Most of the time I love when he does this - I think it adds even more variation into Downspirit's music. If you don't like growly vocals, you should give this album a shot anyway. It's infrequent, it (surprisingly) works well in the music, and Steffen is really an all-around fantastic singer. He actually masters many different vocal styles. As for the bulk of Downspirit's music, modern melodic traditional heavy metal is the name of the game. There's definitely a lot of blues influence in their sound as well - something that really makes them stand out in the crowded metal scene. This is mostly utilized by bluesy guitar riffing, harmonica solos, and a bluesy vocal style. Add in some prog and power metal influence and you definitely have a great and eclectic album!
Point of Origin consists of 11 main tracks and one bonus song. The bonus track isn't very interesting, and is just a fun little blues tune. I find myself skipping it every time, and it definitely fits the definition of a "throwaway". Of the 11 main songs, they're all spectacular. It's amazing to me that the band maintains a 50 minute run-time with such little filler (aside from the bonus track). My favorite songs here would be the proggy Point of Origin, the rockin' Life's A Bitch, the ballad Hollow Words, and the highly memorable Make My Day. However, putting together that list of favorites was quite the daunting task. I really had a tough time narrowing it down to 4 songs, which definitely indicates that this is a great album!
The musicians of Downspirit are fantastic. The playing is tight, there are plenty of soaring guitar solos, and the vocals are terrific. Being that Point of Origin's lineup consists of two guitarists, it's expected that this is a guitar-fronted album - and both Cedric Dupont and Axel Reissmann definitely deliver! Between the fantastic riffs, wonderful multi-layered guitar harmonies, and captivating solos, it's really hard for me to pick a favorite part about the guitar playing on Point of Origin. As mentioned previously, Steffen Lauth is a great vocalist. He sings in many different styles on this album, and I have to say that I enjoy all of them. Last, but certainly not least, the rhythm section is great in Downspirit. Sebastian Dunkel is a great drummer, delivering many impressive fills throughout the coarse of the album. Sven Rakowitz's bass playing drives almost every song on Point of Origin, and he does it with confidence and a rock-steady style. Needless to say, it's a joy listening to such professional musicians.
The production is great as well. It's polished and powerful, but has a type of rawness that's essential for this type of heavy metal. There couldn't have been a better sound for this album.
Point of Origin is a terrific debut album by Downspirit. Although there are one or two filler tracks on the album and a few small things could be improved, I have infinite respect for the musicians who made this album. Really, almost everything about Point of Origin is an ingredient for perfection. If you're into heavy metal, but aren't looking for average run-of-the-mill material, this is the album for you! 4 stars are well deserved.
(Originally Posted on SeaofTranquility.org)