Somewhere in a High Desert town, outside a bleak one story home, a severely troubled man pulls up in front and sees the silhouette of a woman and child moving about inside. He pops open the trunk, pulls out a pump action .22 and carries on a decision he’s made against his family that he’ll regret forever. This of course, isn’t the concept of Beneath The Surface, the new album from Spencer Robinson and The Wolf Spiders, but the dark atmosphere present in this release conjures up visuals of horrific events like these. It’s also the second release Robinson has under this moniker and continues to play within themes of desperation, desolation, and tragedy. A gritty release and in a style that’s opposite of the balls to the wall style Spencer Robinson assimilated into while being a longtime member of The Lords of Altamont. The Wolf Spiders all come from similar backgrounds as Spencer, veterans of Los Angele’s garage rock/punk scene such as Johnny DeVilla (Lords of Altamont), Piper Ingram (The Honeymoon Screams), and Tom Hernandez (The Superbees).
If you’re into The Beasts of Bourbon and John Christ era Danzig, this is a new group you’ll take a shine towards. The production of this album is minimal at best but works well given the atmosphere within the songs. The songwriting of Beneath The Surface is in the alternative rock genre but also mixed alt-country, blues, and some post-punk. Distortion makes a minimal appearance on this record, reserved for the leadoff “Drink Gasoline, Spit Fire” and the concluding “Teenage Supernova.” Sandwiched between those are tracks are somber-sounding works that explore the worst in man. The title track of this release stands out most with its melancholic rhythm backing up the slide work and Robinson’s gravelly voice suits the atmosphere. The instrumentation on “10 Years of Fire” has an Oliveri-era QOTSA vibe to it but the lyrics seem scattered with some filler added in. “September” is a dark ballad that touches on the topic of isolation and death. “Bleed Me” has a dark alt-country vibe with Robinson’s narration of the lyrics ambiguously construed for us listeners to interpret as a first-person narration or instructions he’s giving to an unnamed confidant.