Band: Spirit Adrift
Album: Divided by Darkness
Label: 20 Buck Spin
Genre: Doom Metal, Heavy Metal
Release Date: May 10th, 2019
Side projects are fairly common in the metal scene. These musicians are extremely talented, and need more than one outlet to share it with the world. Some side projects are goofy and weird, while others usurp their original monarchs. Then there is Spirit Adrift. You may recognize a few of the members from Gatecreeper when you see the band live. But I DARE you to ask Nate Garrett about his “side project” Spirit Adrift. This is a labor of love for for the man and I believe his biggest outlet artistically. Their latest record Divided by Darkness is their most fully realized sound to date.
If my “reviewer’s license” gives me any authority to psychoanalyze somebody through their music, (It doesn’t) then I’m happy to report that Nate has continued to pull himself out of the doomy doldrums into a more heavy metal sound. With Curse of Conception, Spirit Adrift’s breakout sophomore LP, the band found success with a more melodic sound taken from the 80’s heavy metal movement. The doom never left but it had new life injected into it through the guitar work on display. Their last LP never made it into my rotation, but the singles released really tickled my fancy so I snatched up the opportunity to review this album and I am very happy I did.
The star of Divided by Darkness has to be the guitars. Whether it is the riffs, the bass lines, the lead licks or the shredding solos; there is a lot to love and it never comes off flashy. The opening track We Will Not Die kicks straight into the riffs after a synth intro that is just dripping with 80s nostalgia. The fills in this song really highlight the great bass tone that is present throughout the album. It has a warm sound, but it doesn’t dominate your speakers. If you like a little flash in your guitars, never fear the solos are here. Nate Garrett has undoubtedly had great guitar solos in the past, but Divided by Darkness is home to his best yet. Pull a song out of a hat and you’re bound to be impressed when it kicks in.
One of my favorite moments on the album is the track Born Into Fire. It begins with an evil riff that would’ve fit comfortably in Nate’s side project Gatecreeper. See what I did there? It begins on such a note that you would expect it to be a purely heavy and groovy track, but it’s one of the most dynamic on the album. After the anthemic hook has made its way into your brain the song contorts into a more psychedelic almost somber tone. Even if it doesn’t end up being your favorite track it’s worth your time.
There were a couple things about the record that I found disappointing. For one the sound of the drums felt a little flat for me. The drumming is great and serves the music really well, but it was lacking that punch for me. I didn’t feel the bass drum enough and the cymbals felt too quiet in the mix. The rest of the production is spot-on though. The bigger misstep in my eyes was the way the album finished. The final two tracks felt underwhelming for me. Last Light was a nice ballad type track that had a very melancholy vibe. I enjoyed the song, but this plus the synth drenched outro just felt like a lackluster finish to such a strong album. I don’t think these songs should’ve been removed, just rearranged.
With all of that being said I found Divided by Darkness to be a very strong album in a genre that I usually find to be fairly stagnant. The influences, emotions & guitar virtuosity that populate the record help to keep me engaged and coming back for more. You may consider Spirit Adrift to be the side project of Gatecreeper, but you’re wrong. They are in the same family but heading down different, albeit equally reputable, career paths.
1. We Will Not Die
2. Divided by Darkness
3. Born Into Fire
4. Angel & Abyss
5. Tortured by Time
6. Hear Her
7. Living Light
8. The Way of Return
I’m pretty great. Just ask me, I’ll tell ya.