Spreading the Disease – Mindcell EP Surgery Records Release Date: 11/04/2019 Running Time: 24:38 Review by Paul Monkhouse 7.5/10
Kent metallers Spreading The Disease have been pushing envelopes since first forming at the end of 2014 with their own unique blend of in your face aggression counterbalanced by real hooks. Their latest release is another progression and shows them stretching themselves as they delve deep into the dark world of mental health, spawning five thematically linked tracks that manage to convey more in five songs and 25 minutes than most bands do in a decade.
It’s really a case of put the EP on, sit back and be prepared to be torn apart as not only is it a devastating sonic attack but an emotional one too with lyrics that seem to peer into lost souls and convey all that this, at time of writing, Mental Health Awareness Week speaks about. It is both cathartic and consuming.
The blistering ‘Obsession’ opens with a sledgehammer intensity, the guitars and drums brutal and the vocals screamed. As this slips into the melodic section, the lyrics asking “Am I all that you want me to be / or should I just go in for myself, break my chains and be free?” perfectly mirror the conflict between despair and determination. Later in the song there is a very telling line that points at social media, exposing the dangers of living your life through the fragile medium of how many ‘likes’ you get for a post and how other people’s approval matters much more than it should. Whilst all this is going on the music is nothing less than truly face melting and fierce.
We go further into the psychological as the discordant notes and unsettling whispers at the start of ‘Voices’ give way to some gentle singing before tearing into tormented screams. This really is a rollercoaster ride as the track jumps between full on metal and great melodic passages, once more illustrating the theme of split personalities in the song. Swirling rhythms build beautifully amongst the grinding guitars and epic, fast-paced drums. ‘The Anger Inside’ starts with a siren as a riff like a rampaging gorilla absolutely tears out of the speakers. The twisted reference to The Sound of Music classic ‘Favourite Things’ is a great touch and the song seethes and boils over with a barely under control aggression.
Following that is album highlight, ‘Waves’, the most melodic and hopeful track of the release. With its mix of screams and ringing guitar patterns it has a real punch whilst also melodically and lyrically uplifting, the lines ‘The path will be long / but I’ll find a way’ the brightest moment on the EP. There is a latter heavy passage that recalls some of the work by The Big 4 and the whole track is full of textures and layers. Last song ‘Conflicted’ is a monstrous rip-roaring finish, full of snarling guitars and slowly unhinging vocals it couldn’t have been a more breathless or apt end to the recording.
There is huge ambition with this release and truth be told, this very occasionally exceeds what the band are presently capable of but there really is so much to sink your teeth into and the songs themselves are real growers. Another very minor point is that once or twice the ‘clean’ vocals could be a little stronger but there is a real level of intelligence here that makes Spreading the Disease stand apart from peers and this is without doubt another massive leap up for the five-piece. Founder member and bass player Steve Saunders and his bandmates have worked hard on making “Mindcell” what it is and should be proud of the achievement as they resolutely do things their way, the band having created something that should find a home in the collections of many a metalhead. Brutal and brave, “Mindcell” needs to be heard.
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Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Monkhouse and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Hi Everyone. Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with UK Metal band Spreading The Disease. Huge thanks to bassist Steve Saunders for taking part!
What is your name, what do you play and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?
My name is Michael Caine… Sorry just kiddin’… I am Steve founder member of Spreading The Disease”. I am the bassist and main songwriter. I started the band late 2015 and by early 2016 we were already in studio and gigging. We never really stopped from then until now really, having gone through a number of musicians over these past few years all of whom have been great through their time in the band.
How did you come up with your band name?
I have always been a big fan of “Queensryche” and one of my favourite albums is “Operation Mindcrime”. Plus I’m also a big fan on the Mad Max saga, Book of Eli. Add that to my views of the World and you have a basis for an ethos and band name.
What country are you from and what is the metal scene like there?
I am British, though I moved to Spain very early on with my family, so I practically grew up there and am more Spanish than English. The scene is different there. I formed my first band there and within a few months we were signed, had a hit single in the rock charts, toured major arenas, supported by Metal hammer and other magazines, radio etc. I started out young and had to learn very quickly how to manage, book, promote and so on. My band were / are great people, we are still good friends. Their commitment was second to none and knew what had to be done and got on with it. We also had loads of laughs and many crazy rock n roll stories.
What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single or Video)
The band has just released a brand new EP called “MINDCELL” through “Rock Surgery Records” who have been great to the band. A couple of videos are forthcoming too to support the release. It has a dark deep feel about it, representing some very dark thoughts, emotions, illnesses that some of us suffer, often in silence sadly. It all ties in, the EP artwork, the music and the video!
Who have been your greatest influences?
I personally am influenced by many bands, but as an example, Black Sabbath, Rammstein, Metallica, Slipknot, Five Finger Death Punch, Disturbed and many more.
What first got you into music?
My Uncle John who sadly passed away this week. He handed me a very old record player which you had to place standing up, and about 6 old singles, one of them was ‘Old Shep’ by Elvis, and another was ‘Telstar’ by The Tornadoes, ‘My Ol Mans A Dustman’ by Lonnie Donegan and others. Then, I discovered Black Sabbath via a couple of older lads I knew in Spain. They were a cult in those days. After that I brought my first guitar, took it home, played it for 2 weeks or at least tried, then decided my rock n roll stardom was over. A good friend convinced me to try playing bass. So I have a couple of people to blame there. Sorry to everyone lol.
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?
I love Slipknot, the anger, the brutality, honestly and in your face attitude.
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
Wow that’s tricky. There are many, but if I had to only choose one, probably “Rock in Rio”.
What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
Haha…that would be telling and probably censored.
If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
Without the fans, our “Little viruses”…this and any band would be nothing. They are who I do this for. I thank each and every one of them for supporting the band in so many ways, and they are amazing. As a band right now it is going through some changes so it could be a while before it is back on the scene in full capacity but raring to go and see all the fans again, I enjoy meeting everyone, talking to them, being friends with everyone.
If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
I think, Chris Cornell, I loved his music; taken too soon and felt he had so much more to give. A real shame. Obviously there are many but his death struck me.
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
Ouch, this is a tricky one too. I will keep it simple as, I could write an essay on this one. I love playing, writing, recording, networking, making friends and where possible helping as much as able in any way I can. Sadly I think the music business has changed drastically from when I first started. Today it has many flaws. The internet is a godsend and also a bad tool against us too. As a whole, I have had the luck and pleasure of working with many amazing people from all sides and levels in the industry and most are amazing people who I have the utmost respect for. That said there are some that really should not be in the biz for various reasons, people who preach one thing and are very much the opposite, many who should know better. I shall leave it there.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Downloading/pirating and streaming music. Well I should say at least pay the musicians fairly so they can create a career as before out of music and allow the labels etc. to be able to earn enough again safely, so as to invest in bands and help support them toward a strong career together. Until this changes it is a very poor situation that has made this Industry almost just an expensive hobby and one that will unlikely see big rock bands anymore unless real change happens involving literally everyone.
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
“Sabotage” – Black Sabbath.
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
I like Vinyl because it has a certain feel, sound and options regarding artwork etc. That said, I think CD’s are cool too for some of those reasons. Downloads etc would be fine providing, as I mentioned above, that the Industry sorts it so that Musicians can be paid fairly for their work. Cassettes…Please no! I can remember spending hours trying to rewind the damn things or getting them out of stereos when tangled knowing your music is gonna be screwed when you manage to retrieve it.
What’s the best gig that you have played to date?
I have toured arenas with my first band which was amazing, and have on occasions played some very memorable gigs, at least for me, the Marquee in London was one, the Cavern in Liverpool, Bloodstock, and being in a band called “The Self Titled” check em out, who I have the honour of saying were the only band to have played I think 5 times the Bulldog Bash main stage and great shows they were too, huge crowds, big thank you to the HA for looking after us so well each and every time. Of course STD has played some great gigs over these past four years.
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
When I was many years younger I played football semi-professionally for Lloret de Mar in Spain, a bunch of us got selected to do trials for Barcelona at the time. I managed to screw it up for various stupid reasons outside of the game. It’s one of my biggest regrets. I don’t think I would have become a musician if it had gone the other way.
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?
Haha…well, I love things to get mad, crazy, hilarious and somewhat bizarre…so probably Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Connolly, Corey Taylor, Dave Allen, Chasey Lane and Grace Jones. What a mess that would be lol.
What’s next for the band?
Currently to promote the new EP etc, then I shall be taking a step back while I regroup the band with new musicians. Then into recording a new album which is already written and waiting for people to work on with me then back out there when ready with the support of hopefully the label, Management (Mr Darran Smith) and all the amazing press, radios, promoters, venue owners and specially the friends and fans of what we do. Meantime, I might also join a band as bassist for a while as it is going to take some time to replace the very talented people on many levels that made up this recent line-up of STD.
What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
The usual ones I guess, Spotify, iTunes, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Soundcloud, and our label has distributed the band’s EP all over the World on dozens and dozens of platforms including China, Africa, USA and so on. You can find links to some of those media platforms on our website. www.stdband.com
Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?
Hah…well the word says otherwise, but I think I class them more of a biscuit.
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
I wish to thank Ever Metal for always supporting us, Heaps of Metal who have been amazing and the dozens and dozens of radios and airplay and press including some seriously amazing reviews that people have given our music which is so very very helpful in moving the band forward and dearly appreciated, to all those in this business who have given us the time of day, helped us, supported us and worked with the band. And last but of course not least, to everyone out there friends, fans, family etc., that STD consider one big family. Bless you all. SPREAD THE WORD, SPREAD THE DISEASE!
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.