Ah, the rebirth of the resurrection of the classic age of heavy metal continues! You know, I’m absolutely loving the last few albums from Grand Magus, and the denim-vested antics of home grown outfits like Arkham Witch, who just aren’t ashamed or afraid of being – well, just heavy metal. I don’t mean that in any pejorative way – it’s not just heavy metal of course, but being a top notch, head-down, barnet-nodding metal band has seemed to have been a bit of a lost art until recently. Spirit Adrift, my friends, are another great modern sounding band that record in the great classic art of pure heavy metal.
It’s a beautiful thing. “We Will Not Die” has all of the components you need; big, thunderous drumming? Check. Burbling bass? Yep. Hook-laden riffage and actual solos? You got it. Clean, powerful vocals that are clear but carry menace? Oh yes. Ladies and gents, Spirit Adrift are the real deal. As opening tracks go, this is a hard rocking anthem that sticks in the cranium. “Divided by Darkness” is a lumbering beast, all barely controlled menace and leaden chugs. “Born into Fire” continues with a wicked take on an Egyptian sounding main riff and vertigo-inducing churning sound. I also suspect that the tempo involved in the main riff is at the optimum velocity to induce air-punching. “Angel and Abyss” – ah, to be honest I can do without this one, sounding as it does like a pretty weak power ballad of the type that Testament used to infest on their mid-period albums. Not even the meatier riffs at the end of the song can save it. Luckily, “Tortured by Time” arrives just in the nick of time to inject some metal back into proceedings, allowing guitarist and vocalist Nathan Garrett to exercise his formidable clean voice to more satisfactory musical backing. “Hear Her” turns up the aggression even more, coming on like the bastard child of King Diamond and Pentagram. “Living Light” features some mid-song curveball in terms of the overall sound, while closer “The Return” saves the most epic moments for last; a long, winding haul through expansive instrumental sections of serpentine creation.
There’s plenty to get your head around here, and it’s far from an empty-brained gonzo retro-fest, as some pure metal albums can be. Special mention to the production here too, which is absolutely fantastic, allowing the guitar solos in particular to really soar. If producing a tasteful yet impressive flashy piece of axe work is a dying art, it’s still alive and kicking within the confines of Spirit Adrift. Likewise, the bass guitar, while not perhaps as In your face as in some modern albums, does an excellent job of filling in the gaps and keeping the skeleton of the songs in place with the impressive drumwork. A final shout out to the ever amazing Joe Petagno for his cover artwork – such a great piece of art to showcase the music here.
Spirit Adrift sound like a band that’s confident with what they’re doing – and quite right too. They deserve to get a really broad listening base. I’ve had them on pretty consistently for the last couple of weeks (aside from “Angel and the Abyss” !), and I’m not showing any signs of wanting to stop listening any time soon. Do yourself a favour – give this a listen (and then pick up a patch for your trad-metal vest).
(8.5/10 Chris Davison)