Thursday 14 September 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Spirit Adrift - "Curse of Conception"

By: Conor O’Dea

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 06/10/2017
Label: 20 Buck Spin

“Curse of Conception” is a glorious success and a dazzling evolution of an already excellent band. 

“Curse of Conception” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Earthbound
2). Curse Of Conception
3). To Fly On Broken Wings
4). Starless Age (Enshrined)
5). Graveside Invocation
6). Spectral Savior
7). Wakien
8). Onward, Inward

The Review:

I tend to approach reviews with a fair degree of two things: reservation and resolve. Reservation, because it is actually pretty tough to write about music you love and try to convey the message of why you love it to a broad audience without jumping to superlatives in every sentence. It is a task I always approach with trepidation, and this anxiety is in direct positive correlation with how much I love the music in question. Resolve is obviously a corollary of this: one has to steel oneself to 'analyze' what one really just wants to 'experience'. How can I accurately convey not just my enjoyment of art someone else has created, but ultimately, share my profound appreciation with not just other potential fans, but the artist or artists themselves? Particularly without either missing the interpretive boat or engaging in sloppy ellipsis? 

When I was lucky enough to convince THE SLUDGELORD to let me review Spirit Adrift'sChained to Oblivion”, I had already been listening to it almost non-stop for several weeks. It was one of the albums of 2016 that I was most excited about, that I found most profoundly moving. It had and still has all the makings of a genre classic. That genre being heavy metal, not one of the vast and ever- propagating subgenres. My love of the debut album actually intensified some of my reservations about reviewing “Curse of Conception”: was I going to like it? Had Nate changed direction substantively? Was it still going to be the band I had grown to love? And here I default to throwing around superlatives: “Curse of Conception” is a glorious success and a dazzling evolution of an already excellent band. 

I would actually be hard pressed to say what 'element' I like most about Spirit Adrift on this album, but the vocals are again what truly set the band apart. Nate's harmonies are epic in every sense of the word, and they are brilliantly punctuated here by cresting on top of a guitar tone that somehow retains the doom-heavy fuzz of “Chained to Oblivion”, yet brings in a razor-sharp brightness that calls to mind the Metallica with whom I first fell in love. The switch from Orange to the EVH tonal palate works flawlessly, letting Spirit Adrift remain deeply true to everything that made the first album stand out while allowing an adventurous, exciting sonic reframing. Sabbathian elements are retained in vocal passages like the title track without every descending into copy-catting or worship. Spirit Adrift take their influences seriously and respectfully, but there is never a sense of retread or anachronism; this album is grounded in tradition but massively innovative in approach. On tracks like “Starless Age”, this growth expresses itself as a mature fusion of some beloved and sacred moments in the metal cannon with a clear, decisive compositional voice. 

And lest I forget: the album is joyous, fun, revels in the interplay of the aforementioned harmonies with spectacular riffage and never-without-purpose soloing. Check out a burner like “Graveside Invocation”; you know Nate knows he's knocking it out of the park here. The peaks and troughs and dramatic build from song to song work like the best film scripts: pacing is everything. Case in point: the wonderful acoustic country-tinged psychedelia build of “Walkien”. I literally laughed out loud at how perfect the change was here at 1:59. Epic, indeed. I've wasted enough of your time: you should be listening to this album and not reading reviews about it. Go get it. Remember why metal is awesome.

“Curse Of Conception” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook