Album Review: Spear of Destiny – “Tontine”
Spear of Destiny were very much the nearly men of the 80s goth movement. Probably best known for their paranoid unsettling masterpiece “Never Take Me Alive”, surely one of the most unlikely Top 20 hits ever, they never quite managed to better said song in terms of either commercial performance or quality, and were kind of left to flounder in the wake of the likes of the Sisters of Mercy, the Mission, the Cult et al.
SoD frontman Kirk Brandon is nothing if not a persistent chap however, and the group have continued to soldier on in the intervening decades with “Tontine” being no less than the band’s fourteenth album. It’s an interesting listen as the band have definitely evolved a little in recent years, though not to the extent that they’ve strayed too far from their original template.
The main thing that strikes you is that this is definitely an angrier, punkier even, Spear of Destiny than the one that briefly troubled the charts 30-odd years ago (then again, given that Brandon’s roots were in the post-punk era with the ultra-intense Theatre of Hate, maybe not such a surprise) – opening song “Brighton” rails vitriolically against the gentrification of Brandon’s hometown, while the anti-military “Medievalists” is equally fierce. Elsewhere, they drop the tempo to good effect on the creepy “Afrikan Proverb” and “Enigma” and the pounding tribal drums underpin the anti-Gulf War diatribe “Monuments In The Sand” well.
It’s not quite all plain sailing – a couple of songs such as “Second Life” and “Mr Livingstone I Presume” have a tendency to meander a bit in search of a point, while Brandon’s abrasive voice doesn’t really suit the attempt at an acoustic-led number on “No Other”. But still, for what it is, this is a solid offering from Spear of Destiny which sits well alongside their better known earlier work and should be more than enough to keep their fans happy.
If you weren't a Spear of Destiny fan first time out then I doubt "Tontine" is going to be the album to suddenly convert you, but those who've stuck with them through the years will be pleased to learn that this is a good solid offering from Kirk and co, which could certainly stand toe-to-toe with their more successful '80s efforts. Worth a look for the curious.