From the arid plains of Phoenix, Arizona, Spirit Adrift have created another album, Divided by Darkness, landing May 10 via 20 Buck Spin.
Since 2016, the one-man wonder Nathan Garrett, has been writing and recording driving, doom-based metal blended with soaring harmonies and NWOBHM elements. In 2017, Garrett expanded with more musicians, members of Gatecreeper and Goya, to tour and blow minds.
Divided by Darkness, however, boasts, “Garrett, handling all lead and harmony vocals, guitar, and bass, with drums handled by Marcus Bryant, and features synth and Wurlitzer by Preston Bryant and choral vocals on “Living Light” by Kayla Dixon. On stage, Spirit Adrift’s lineup is comprised of Nathan Garrett on vocals and guitar, Marcus Bryant on drums, Chase Mason on bass, and Jeff Owens on guitar.”
The musicianship, Garrett’s and others’, are exemplary. The lofty goals are achieved with the ethereal atmosphere laid bare, especially on “Living Light.” Divided by Darkness exhibits grander choices than the prior two albums, as instruments play with layered textures of ascending metallic aspirations manifesting into sophisticated compositions.
While it is true that Spirit Adrift expand beyond the simple moniker of the doom genre, their impressive doom chops should not be discounted. After a more classic, rocking first track, the title track and “Born into Fire” hit in succession with crisp, monstrous doom riffs. “Born into Fire” brandishes an evil tone, like Sabbath/Dio, but is heavier and crunchier. Some harmonic tricks pierce the speakers and capture listeners early.
“Tortured by Time” is another blazing example. This track is certainly not as abrasive or demonic as Cathedral or gruff as Reverend Bizarre, showing that Spirit Adrift will boldly dispose of doom tropes. They are reaching beyond that single-dimension tag. Yet, on “Tortured by Time,” the riffs are heavy and dirgy. But, the time is additionally spent allowing the lead guitar to, well, take the lead and forge a path with high-pitched harmonics and clean tones.
“Hear Her” harnesses a bold thrash riff, charging and chugging. Wrapping under four minutes, it is the shortest track. This riff surely is the most abrasive and drums support this; pounding mercilessly. It is the hardest, most ripping track. The closer, “The Way of Return,” is some classic Sabbath adoration with other influences combined, drawing in aspects of Black Sabbath and Cathedral while infusing relentless NWOBHM and exploding with brilliance and engaging harmonics.
Most songs embrace the dynamics of separate segments and reach a gushing climax. The fun and challenges within each song allow the listener to extract different pleasures along the way. The songwriting of Garrett is one to be admired. He chooses great tones and varies up the tracks enough to never repeat himself. Between Garret and Sanford Parker steering recording, engineering, and mixing (as he has with Darkthrone, Eyehategod, Tombs), Divided by Darkness is an amazing, cohesive, and focused album. You can hear influences beyond doom metal and casting a wide net for fans of Metallica, Judas Priest, Crowbar, Pentagram, and Mastodon.
RIYL: Magic Circle, Pallbearer, Khemmis, Haunt, Sumerlands