Spirits Fly

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In a confusing turn of events, Holocaust's 1996 album, Spirits Fly, was actually a re-release of its out of print 1992 predecessor, Hypnosis of Birds, with an additional three tracks added for good measure. It's really the least they could have done, since the original album was hardly very good in the first place, but merely functional enough to keep the aging New Wave of British Heavy Metal stalwarts breathing for a little while longer. And, it should also be pointed out that these three bonus offerings entailed re-recorded versions of ancient classics "Heavy Metal Mania" and "Death & Glory," as well as -- in a clearly symbolic gesture of grateful payback -- a faithful cover of Metallica's "Master of Puppets." But, backtracking just a little to consider the other contents of Spirits Fly (which include yet another rehashed oldie in the Metallica-covered "The Small Hours"), one may be surprised to discover that on this, their latest "comeback" effort, Holocaust's music most resembled the work of Canuck space-metal legends Voivod. Indeed, there's more than a little sub-Dimension Hatross inspiration to be found in the likes of "Hypnosis of Birds" and "Book of Seasons," and the hollow vocals of frontman John Mortimer bear more than a passing resemblance to the ubiquitous Snake. But then, on the other hand, the galloping rhythms of the epic "The Tower" foster an unexpected allegiance with the new wave exploits of, say, Big Country, before settling into what one might generously call heavy metal technicality on its way to a bizarre, cello-accompanied coda. And whatever the good intentions behind this investigative attitude, it's still abundantly clear that Spirits Fly was a predominantly flawed, although necessary, step on Holocaust's slow, unsure road to rehabilitation.