Sound — 9
Marionette are a relatively new band hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden, the scourge of all things original and fresh, according to some. The town's history in metal music is notorious; yet even the most dedicated would have trouble finding more than a handful of resident bands who could claim to be doing anything other than partying like it's 1995. One look at the members of Marionette and one might assume that they are more likely to rehash Marilyn Manson than At The Gates. They would be wrong, as this band rehashes nobody. Despite their frankly bizarre appearance, this band has got some musical ideas that they want to make very clear. After listening to mere seconds of this album it will have your attention as 'Spite' is a comprehensive demonstration of passion, ferocity and intensity. This young band may seem just a little overexcited at their own distortion channels at first glance, but juxtaposing the childlike enthusiasm of 'Legion' with the altogether more sophisticated air of 'Flies', the listener comes to the realisation that Marionette really know how to write a tune. The mix and production of 'Spite' is absolutely crystal clear, surprisingly polished for a debut, only enhancing the band's music, notably the impressive conviction of vocalist Axel Widn and rock-solid technique of drummer Jimmy Olausson. The band claims their main influences are from the Swedish variants of melodic death metal and hardcore and a genre called 'Japanese visual-kei', which is supposedly a major interest of bassist and founder Mikael Medin. Now, I'm not one to judge the band's connection to 'Japanese visual-kei ambience', but the music certainly reflects a certain grittiness reminiscent of the Ume hardcore scene as well as the more obvious melodic tendencies of bands such as Soilwork. Still, Marionette are more than just an amalgamation of their influences, as they have brought a large-scale factor to some of the songs on 'Spite' (specifically 'Dead Boys And Girls' and 'This Is The End') and the freshness of this music is something to be savoured.
Lyrics — 7
Hardcore domination may cause a love/hate situation in regards to Marionette's vocal department, but the sheer power behind Axel Widn's voice is enough to impress anyone, if only from a technical point of view. There is a fair variety of approaches to be found across these twelve songs, from deep guttural growls to clean vocals to Widn's preferred high-pitched fierce scream. His vocal delivery invokes some real rage, as if it was not already supplied by the rest of the band. Lyrically, 'Spite' is a little more of a mixed bag. Obviously the dark imagery that is hinted at in their interest in Japanese 'visual-kei' is ever-present, but there are a couple of dubious songs where clich topics (They try to tell you who you are/tell you what to believe) are lightly dusted with some refrains destined to be screamed back by teen audiences everywhere. However, the lyrical content is overall satisfactory, with the way they are delivered particularly so.
Overall Impression — 9
Considering that 'Spite' is a debut from a band who have been around for a mere three years, the work displayed on this disc is astounding. The band can convey pure ecstasy ('Black Hand') and grand misery ('In Spite') with a natural ease that is not common in bands this fresh off the conveyor belt. In fact, I would be entirely disappointed if this band weren't still making albums this refined and slickly done in 10 years time. This band's got heaviness, it's got melody, it's got speed, it's got texture... hell, just pop over to their Myspace page and listen to the beginning of 'Release'.