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Spiderland

by Slint

Released March 27, 1991 via Touch and Go Records

Reviewed March 25, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Good Morning, Captain (75%), Breadcrumb Trail (54%), Washer (42%)

The name of this record originates from lead Brian McMahan’s younger brother calling it “spidery.” It is an apt description as Slint construct cavernous, wintery environments where comfort is desperately sought and only found in the smooth surfaces of the stalactites that reach down and catch the moonlight that leaks through the ragged cracks in the rock. Even so, they’re accompanied by one’s fear they’ll fall. Spiderland not only articulates this anxiety, but also their prescience of post-rock and math rock with jagged and atypical tempos, structures, and vocals. It sporadically jumps between tones, but never in an unpredictably chaotic or messy way, supported by lyrics of loneliness and emerging depression that explore the psyche in ways only novels have been able to achieve. In terms of performance, Spiderland boasts excruciating fine motor dexterity, with many songs being recorded in just a single take, which is particularly impressive considering the tracks’ abnormal lengths. Slint’s daunting riffs and calculated percussion, as well as their simultaneously touching and scathing lyrics, cement them in music history. One of contemporary rock’s most influential works has aged like fine wine, tucked away at the back of a muggy cellar, lonesome and laden with webs while moss grows on the walls. It’s darker than the mind down there, and there’s no sign of anyone coming to open the door. – Cam (10/10).


30 years removed from its release, Spiderland has attracted one of the biggest cult followings, and for damn good reason. Its status seems to only be further solidified as time goes on, as Slint’s influence can be heard in virtually any form of experimental rock. Coming off the heels of hardcore, the 1991 release of Spiderland is a highpoint of the post-hardcore genre and quite easily the most complex take on the sound. Juxtaposing sparse guitars and spoken word with blistering instrumentals and strained shouting, there’s a preciseness to the album’s unpredictability. The building up, gripping, and releasing (but never fully letting go) of tension is Slint’s specialty, with all four members displaying impeccable levels of chemistry and musicianship as they craft a sound that is as equally addictive as it is anxiety-inducing. Jarring, shifting rhythms, unorthodox time signatures, and an advanced understanding of dynamics are all at play here as they put together an album unlike anything rock fans had heard prior. And with Brian McMahon’s unsettling, desolate, and sometimes ambiguous narratives scattered throughout, Spiderland has a rightful claim as any to being one of the most innovative and intricate records of all time. – Dominick (10/10)

From the opening notes of Spiderland, you can tell it’s not going to be your standard album listening experience. Mixing an anxiously repressed atmosphere, ever changing time signatures, and a stream of consciousness style tale about a carnival creates a mission statement unlike anything else. They slowly start revealing more to you with the masterful use of progressions and tension building to create some of music’s most intricate, yet implosive recordings. The weight of the narratives along with the intensity of the music makes it feel like the album could collapse under its weight at any moment, but it never does. With Spiderland, Slint created a masterpiece that would go on to define a shift in the musical scene that we can still feel 30 years later. – Jared (10/10)

Seminal post-rock/math rock record Spiderland reaches heights that musicians twice the age of the band members, at the time, couldn't dream of accomplishing. Post-rock's formula of ascension, spoken word, atmospheric passages, and cathartic undoing can be somewhat tied back to the release of this record. Not necessarily this album solely on its own, but you just get the feeling that it's the true inception and a perfect execution of the style that hasn't been bettered since. Compared to a Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Slint tend to indulge more on rhythmic calculations and masterfully worked points of seismic shifts. There are moments of atmospheric playthroughs, but Slint's strengths lie in their abilities to mechanically maneuver through sullen soundscapes. – Peter (9.5/10)


Dominick: 10/10 | Jared: 10/10 | Cam: 10/10 | Peter: 9.5/10

Enth: 9/10 | DeVán: 8.5/10 | Hadley: 8.5/10 | Pax: 8.4/10

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