The Stuttgart, Germany, band Downspirit shows both positive and negative traits characteristic of German bands on its new “Bulletproof.” First off, the group exhibits an ingenuity of sound as it fuses American blues with traditional heavy metal. On the other hand, Downspirit singer Steffen Lauth sometimes drifts into a stilted delivery symptomatic of German rock bands.
Ultimately goodness prevails and “Bulletproof” shakes out to be a compelling listen despite a few misfires.
Founded by guitarist Cedric Dupont, Downspirit gets its name from down-tuned guitars that create a gloomy air — an atmosphere enhanced by bluesy nuance (used most prevalently on song intros, as with the tracks “Life After Her” and “Hellyeah”).
Yet “Bulletpoof” is not merely a metallic miasma of misery. Lauth dispenses advice like, “Don’t let anybody tell you that you’re something that you’re not” on the expletive-titled third track, he rages “I will make it without you” in the riveting “Overload,” and he vindictively announces, “My life has just begun” in the defiant turmoil of “Gotta Get Away.”
Musically and lyrically, Downspirit is more mature and diverse than most metal. The blues and pop touches are crafty and well placed in the chugging electricity, and the themes intersperse politics and humor with the more typical personal-angst fare.
Perhaps “Are You Proud” best exemplifies the group’s strengths, its gritty, gut-bucket blues ethos balanced by shimmering harmonies and packaged in a heavy rock context as Lauth launches into a tirade against the platitudes of flag-waving, faux patriots.
Unfortunately, Downspirit deals drudgery in the form of “I’m a Survivor” and “Human Gift,” and the band crashes and burns in the hokey vocals and guitar solo of “The Wish.”
Still, “Bulletproof” mostly hits the target.
Rating: 3.5 stars (out of five)
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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