The traditional heavy metal revival is still in full swing in 2019 thankfully. Some of this stuff can lean to the cheesier power metal aspect which is fun in its own right but doesn’t always have that artistic bent to it that many listeners appreciate in their music. The best stuff in the revival makes nods to these aspects without fully laying into that kind of sound and usually has a doomier sound to it. These bands can sometimes sound dark and brooding, though not always, and the best nod to it without fully committing. Phoenix’s Spirit Adrift is a great example of those kinds of groups that has something to truly add to the sound.
The Phoenix quartet has been making a lot of noise since forming in 2015. Guitarist Chase Mason and vocalist Nate Garrett formed the band as a second project from their other band Gatecreeper. It’s really the culmination of Garrett’s 2015 newly-found sobriety. Looking into his past, it makes sense that Spirit Adrift’s often dour and dark tone is borne from personal tragedies along the way. While it’s unfortunate that some of these things have come to pass for Garrett, he has fueled the band’s themes, music, and lyrics in an effort to exorcise some personal demons.
That fuel has made one hell of a fire on the band’s latest album, Divided By Darkness. The band invokes some of its traditional metal contemporaries like Haunt and Khemmis but definitely puts their own spin on this new wave. Many of the guitar acrobatics from those kinds of groups is apparent on this record, the overall tone of the album is much darker than their contemporaries. They employ more minor chords and keys and layer on multiple tracks of subtly effected guitars to add a bit of dark harmony to their tracks. Meanwhile, they still have the feet planted pretty firmly in doom metal with big fuzzy guitars and overall slower tempos on their songs that combine to make them hit like a ton of bricks. So even if you’re not really into this new traditional wave, you’ll still find a lot to enjoy about Divided.
Spirit Adrift is really at their best when they get deep into doom territory like on “Angel & Abyss”. A mournful strumming of chords introduces a soaring guitar solo. A lightly effected somber riff follows soon after with some deeply emotional lyrics. Then a very welcome hard section with a dual guitar lead, just like you asked for! Hell, they even speed things up in an awesome early 80s throwback section. They seem so comfortable combining doom and traditional metal sounds in a blend that builds up both and strengthens their songs. You won’t soon forget this track.
This record is among the best I’ve heard this year. I had a truly difficult time not putting it on over and over again. It’s such a unique sound and combination of influences that works brilliantly. It’s got the heaviness required for this kind of sound and combines it with total ear candy riffs. There are some deeper lyrics to really think hard on combining with awesome throwback metal. It’s a unique experience that feels truly authentic and interesting. You should find time to drift off with this record.
Divided By Darkness drops May 10th via 20 Buck Spin, and is available for pre-order on the band’s Bandcamp page.