This has been a rare week where grappling to figure out what to place in the Pick of the Week spot was like fucking Wrestlemania. Um, a good Wrestlemania. It’s a great problem to have when you need to write about four of your favorite records of the year in a single week, but that’s what we have here, and what we decided on was a no-brainer regardless of how strong the content was this week.
We’ve been following the path of Spirit Adrift for a few years now, and it was clear from the band’s 2016 debut “Chained to Oblivion” that something really special was going on here, and when vocalist/guitarist Nate Garrett assembled a full band and returned a year later with “Curse of Conception,” that the vision was coming into focus. Now, three years after their debut comes “Divided By Darkness,” another impressive display by this band and one that pulls them mostly out of doom metal waters and safely lands them in classic metal territory, the place it always seemed they were headed. At eight tracks and 41 minutes, it’s the leanest Spirit Adrift record yet, but it’s also the one that’s bound to break them to more people. Garrett’s singing has gotten even stronger and more nuanced, while the rest of the band—rounded out by Jeff Owens, Chase Mason, and Marcus Bryant, though Garrett handles all instrumentation (except drums) and vocals on the record—stands ready to roll out this metallic mission live, armed with a fucking great record.
“We Will Not Die” gets the record off to a ripping start as the track builds up majestically, with drums erupting and the fire beginning to rage. Things finally kick into high gear and we’re off, and the chorus just swells with Garrett wailing, “Shatter reality, sever our ties, invisible war being waged in our minds.” Great soloing fires up, and then we’re back to the chorus, with the declaration of, “They cannot live, we will not die,” blazing the way. The title track pushes in as a burly beast, trudging with filthy riffs and a slow driving, heavy tempo. “Must reconnect with our divine,” Garret urges, “explore dimensions with senses beyond sight,” as guitars lather and we come to a clean end. “Born Into Fire” has muscular riffs flexing and a thrashy feel to everything to get the juices going. “I am the serpent intertwined, I am the wolf prepared to strike,” Garrett warns amid blistering playing that eventually cools a bit and gets gazey. After some reflection, the track relaunches, sets off fireworks, and finally gives way to calm. “Angel and Abyss” is a goddamn treat. It’s a soft-loud ballad that pulls on metal’s roots, while the verses are icier and the chorus thunders up. “Losing sight of what I’m searching for, is this the end or the beginning?” Garrett calls, as the emotions run high. Later, the track goes off, the guitars chug like a monster, and an echoed cackle that just reeks of Ozzy (in the best way possible) sends a chill up your spine before stampeding out.
“Tortured By Time” has solid singing, riffs that spiral, and an approach that sets you up for being trampled. Garrett reflects on the passage of time and the long stretch of the past, as the soloing scorches, and the track takes on the adventurous nature that mirrors our existences. “Hear Her” unloads an awesome riff, and it’s one of the catchiest songs in the band’s catalog. There track is eerie and punchy in spots, with Garrett urging, “Hear her voice and live again, risen from the dead.” Its mystical nature continues with leads erupting and the undercurrent being crunchy as hell, with it breathing fire all the way up to the end. “Living Light” wastes no time getting going as aggressive riffs blast their way in, and the verses swelling and leaving bruising. “Fulfillment of totality, it is watching as it must,” Garrett calls over the chorus, while things go into a psyche haze. Out of that, doomier waters collect, breezier singing adds color to the edge, and guitars and organ swell meet up and fight toward the finish. “The Way of Return” is a spacey instrumental that ends the record, built by cosmic keys, guitars that light up the night sky, and an ascension into the stratosphere closing the album on a breath-taking note.
It’s been a pleasure listening to Spirit Adrift grow and develop over the past year years, and one of my top live show moments of last year was hearing these guys slay at Migration Fest. With “Divided By Darkness,” the music that truly should catapult this band into the upper echelon has arrived, and it gets more infectious with each listen. This band is one of metal’s handful of true great bands that should help carry the torches for the next 10+ years, and with more records like “Divided By Darkness,” Spirit Adrift will continue to cement a resume that no one alive could question.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/SpiritAdrift
To buy the album, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/
For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/20buckspin