Underground death metal fans have always hailed the famous Goatlord as one of the scene's highest achievements, even after their demise in the early 1990's. Oddly enough, all the Goatlord worship kept the band members silent until drummer Jeff Nardone emerged with Spun in Darkness in 2006, the mysterious percussionist forging another death metal act in the vein of his former project; such a move was bold, but Nardone failed to match what was expected with his first album in over a decade entitled Birthright. The former Goatlord drummer does not continue his ways previous ways of nauseating doom-orientated death metal, but instead a poor groove-laden flop that sounds like a fourth-rate Obituary tribute band. After all, one thing is for sure: Nardone's legacy is officially in the ground.
After almost two minutes of random sound, "In Cold Blood" kicks off with a painfully-easy groove riff lacking any speed or power at all. Sadly enough, this is what Birthright is all about in terms of musicianship, because everything sounds weak and forced. The guitars are far too simple, yet Nardone's percussion suffers from the plague of simplicity, due to his unnecessary use of the bass-snare dud and sub-par drumming diversity. Also, the repetition stunt is shown on several occasions as the band plays one set of boring music for each song, without mixing up any tune with another riff or solo; this is all one can expect. All the pseudo-Obituary worship really sack-taps the enjoyment factor and screws up most of the songs; it is definitely not an easy pill to swallow.
The production amongst the multiple instruments is pure junk to put it bluntly. Instead of an even balance of sound, Birthright is shrouded with booming guitars; this might sound good at first, but these heavy riffs block out almost all vocal and bass audio. Hearing anything that isn't a guitar becomes quite a chore within minutes of listening, and it turns aggravating because the vocals would actually sound decent if they weren't blocked out. There is no clarity when actually noticing what's being played, because you just hear the monotonous riffs lacking decent vocal or bass sound; it is just an awful noise overall. Whoever did this mixing job should consider a new line of work.
Birthright is quite the snoozer for several other reasons as well. However, there does shine a glimmer of hope on the album's two passable tunes, "Nocturnal" and "Crust of the Ghost Effect." Despite the muffled production, this duo of enjoyment emits good, heavy riffing with catchy choruses, and an actual alteration in sound. Also, Spun in Darkness' disdainful simplicity lifts up these two tracks, due to the driving musical structure and the overall combination of riffs, drums, and vocals. Such examples of potential prove Spun in Darkness' goal as a band; still, improvement is needed badly in various crucial areas.
Jeff Nardone's return to the underground metal scene isn't a glorious comeback in any sense; there's a lot issues here, and Birthright unquestionably lacks core parts of Nardone's previous talent in Goatlord. Spun in Darkness have potential to be a great band, but several obstacles are blocking the path to success, and nothing will change unless they realize the basic problems plaguing their dopey nature. Not recommended.