It seems these days that side projects are merely an outlet for artists to test their limitations at the expense of the listener or offload a vanity project in a bid to make some quick scratch. Then there's Spylacopa, a collective that has truly developed into the sum of all its parts. Spearheaded by Candiria guitarist John Lamacchia, the project also sees sizable input from Jeff Caxide of Isis, Greg Pucatio of The Dillinger Escape Plan and Julie Christmas of Made Out Of Babies/Battle Of Mice - all of whom also perform on the effort.
While Puciato's vocals seem omnipresent and remain a guiding force throughout most of this EP, Lamacchia's roots in Candiria are also anything but understated. This leads to a fanboy's wet dream in certain instances as rugged Candiria-reminiscent grooves meet up with Puciato's colorful barks and croons; not to mention "Bloodletting" - a song where Christmas and Pucatio are teamed up together. In fact, it is perhaps only Caxide's droning grandiose metal influence that remains somewhat submerged.
Of course that's not to say Spylacopa finds everyone playing it safe. There's electronic ambiance, sweeping melodies, keys and plenty of experiments with noise. Hell, there's even a rolling Pink Floyd-styled proggy closer. But never do these dalliances get in the way of the core body of the songs themselves. This is a rare feat of restraint given the nature of the project, though admittedly there are moments where this outing can feel a bit rough around the edges.
However, while there's enough influence from each contributing artist injected into the material to make it feel familiar. There's also enough experimentalism to ensure it wouldn't fit right in on one of their respective albums. A refreshing collaboration not bogged down by indulgence or misguided expression; Spylacopa have developed a sound lush with atmosphere and aggression that pushes the uniquely gifted participants respective talents, while simultaneously taking heed of their strengths and weaknesses and the reasons fans came to enjoy them in the first place.
Given the struggles the music business has tossed the way of the artists involved, it's intriguing to see them in this more relaxed environment. Rather than butting heads and clashing ego's, it sounds honest and organically creative, almost as though it was built principally upon mutual appreciation. Sure the musical camaraderie and band crossover appeal are highlights of this release, but thankfully it is the songs themselves that shine the brightest.
(4 / 5)