Spirit Adrift – Divided By Darkness

Get ready to subvert your opinions of what modern metal is and toss out your genre tags. Spirit Adrift is back to bash your eardrums in with riffs, melodies, beats, and deep thoughts. Like the perfect concoction of heavy, catchy and progressive music, the band has delivered a new album in Divided By Darkness (20 Buck Spin) that is just heads and shoulders above its peers. A few bands have danced on this wire before from Baroness, Mastodon, Elder, Kylesa, and others. Ambitious bands that initially got lumped in with the masses, but eventually set themselves apart with fearlessness and writing skills. Now we must add Spirit Adrift to that list of those who could pull off such a daunting amalgam of styles and do it so well.

The opening track ‘We Will Not Die’ announces with a declaration that this album is here to hail and kill you dead with heavy guitars. So many tasty licks and sweet Jazz hands inspiring air guitar moments in this first track along that Bob Fosse will come back from the grave to throw the horns! The spacey, extended introspective meditations the band made famous up to now are not gone completely, but this record favors head-nodding jams above all else. It’s a guitar smorgasbord and your all invited.

The rest of the album follows suit, but with many possible endings like a Choose Your Own Adventure Book. No track is over six and a half minutes. While there is definitely some progressive intricacies in some of the writing, most of these tunes get to the point and don’t overstay their welcome. The title track rages with a slow burn aggression and almost throwback metallic transitions. The second half of the song adds some mellowness that creeps in here and there just to give dynamic and emotional weight. The absolutely killer twin harmony leads solo had me jumping out of my skin with excitement.

The other tracks on Divided By Darkness don’t slack one inch, not for a second. ‘Born Into Fire’ is another mid-tempo crusher destroyer! ‘Angel and Abyss’ might be the high point for me. A truly epic composition that runs the gamut from chill to volcanic hot fire.

Nathan Garrett deserves a lot of credit for his out-of-body level of talent displayed, not just as a composer, but as a consummate professional. He wrote, co-produced, played all the guitars, leads, and bass. He plays bass like a bassist. He has evolved into an incredible singer, where he was tentative just a few years ago. His lyrics on this album are also immense and weighty. This maturation and execution have made him one of the great artists of the genre in the last few years. Drummer Marcus Bryant’s beats are the perfect foil for this music. Perfectly laid back, aggro when he needs to be, and tuned impeccably. The drum production is textbook perfect, done at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio Studio.

‘Tortured by Time’ has the most in common with previous work by the band, but even here, the track just seems to never touch the ground in every way. Lead single ‘Hear Her’ rules on repeated listens. It is the shortest track here, but no less potent. ‘Living Light’ is downright upbeat and happy compared to other songs on the album that have a hint of darkness to most of them. There is a brilliant instrumental breakdown and epic build up to a climax by the end. The final instrumental track ‘The Way of Return’ is a culmination of everything before it. The track starts off with thunder but transforms into a bit of classic Pink Floyd homage during the lengthy final solo. You listen back and tell me if you don’t hear Garrett channel David Gilmour’s buzz-saw leads and signature guitar techniques. He wrings the feelings juice out of every single note played. Towards the end, the track time-warps into a vicious final salvo of riffs and war drums, ending on a similar droned synth note as the album began.

Dived By Darkness represents the total and absolute vision of Nathan Garrett and Marcus Bryant as musical geniuses. It’s also far and away the most complete metal album to come along in a while. Now please excuse us while we gather our jaws off the floor.

9 / 10