Spectral Haze- I.E.V.: Transmutated Nebula Remains

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Norway’s Spectral Haze formed in 2011 and recently released their debut full length I.E.V.: Transmutated Nebula Remains via Soulseller Records. The band plays a mix of heavy psych, space rock, and doom that emphasizes sprawling melodic grooves. While Norway might not be a country that listeners immediately associate with this genre (especially considering the pace at which Sweden produces groups of this type), Spectral Haze is able to hold their own and channel a different vibe than the rest. It doesn’t quite end up being one of my favorites, as there isn’t quite the same immediate hook I felt from some of the best psych rock in 2014, but this group is worth giving a spin if you’re looking for an album to dive into and get lost in its sound waves.

Whereas some of the other releases in this genre have had that immediate hook, it took me about three times through before I.E.V.: Transmutated Nebula Remains fully clicked. Spectral Haze goes for the type of sprawling material that takes some time to really pull you into its hazy grooves, and it may take a few spins before the nuances really start to jump out. The best way to describe the instrumental work is as a cross between Hawkwind style space rock, heavy psych, and a hint of doom where the riffs have a slightly sinister edge to them. To their credit, this particular blend is one that I haven’t heard too many bands merge together recently, so even though each of these styles is familiar territory by themselves Spectral Haze still manages to have a unique vibe. Everything about this recording has a very warm, analog feel to it, which makes it easier to get lost in the fuzzed out grooves once everything falls into place. However, despite not sounding like a mere clone of the billion other psych/doom bands out there, this is an album that starts to feel a bit similar by the end, as the methods that the instrumentalists use to achieve their spacey haze fall into patterns that are just a little too close from one song to the next. This is the one area where I think there is still room for growth, as just a bit more differentiation between tracks would go a long way. Spectral Haze is at their best when they’re delivering pieces like “Descent Through the Intravoidal” that seamlessly move between that warm drug fueled psych rock sound and intense, ominous sounding doom, and it’s a combination that they should definitely continue to utilize.

Guitarist Sondre Mæland (who goes by Spacewülff according to the band’s Facebook page) also serves as the group’s vocalist. While this is the type of material where singing isn’t quite as prominent and there are plenty of lengthy instrumental sections, when they do take over the performance is strong enough to maintain your attention. Mæland’s primary pitch hovers around the mid-range, coming in not quite as high as some of the other Scandinavian psych rock bands out there but not heading into that gruff range that most would associate with stoner rock. It works well with the instrumentals, often hovering just above the surface without getting sucked into the layers of sound. During some of the heavier sections the vocals head in a similar direction, suddenly getting much rawer and downright intimidating. This adds a little bit of tension and abrasiveness to the hazier grooves, and it’s another element that helps the material feel different from so many of the others out there.

I.E.V.: Transmutated Nebula Remains is an album that I wasn’t completely sold on the first few times I listened to it, but it grew on me over time and I’ve come to appreciate what Spectral Haze is going for with this full length debut. Whether you will feel the same way depends on the type of listener you are, because if you need something that has some immediate hooks that will convince you right from the start you won’t necessarily get that here. But if you’re interested in heavy psych/space rock where the nuances become more apparent the more time you spend with it, this one’s worth giving a listen. There is still room for further exploration, as the material here does start to sound a bit similar, and if they can shake things up just a little more that’s what could take Spectral Haze to the next level in the future.

http://www.soulsellerrecords.com/

Leave a Reply