One of the most highly anticipated albums of the year has finally arrived! Members of the Canadian act Spiritbox already made quite a noise by moving the boundaries of modern metal and creating their own sonic stamp with their unmatched blend of metalcore, djent, progressive metal and electronica on their self-titled EP in 2017 and 2019’s “Singles Collection”, as well as through their previous musical activities.
With rising popularity and singles like “Blessed Be” or “Rule Of Nines, it was only a matter of days when the breakthrough they deserved would come. And it did happen; the band around the talented wife and husband duo Courtney LaPlante and Mike Stringer smashed everyone in the face with their moshpit hit “Holy Roller” and, finally, the attention across media and (not only) heavy music listeners was all theirs.
The band was slowly uncovering their complex identity and revealing bits and pieces of their unique character with each new single release, leaning more towards the modern sound rather than the dark, raw, and at some places even feral, progressive soundscapes that everyone came to love in 2017. This process of moulding and maturing since 2016 resulted in a 12-track LP named “Eternal Blue”, which dropped on September 17. As already hinted, you would search for “Belcarra, Pt. 2” to no vain. But that’s the thing! It’s about evolving, right?
Album’s opener “Sun Killer” serves its purpose just right; it unveils all the layers and flavours of Spiritbox without haste. It’s like entering the new yet somehow familiar territory, and getting acquainted with the surroundings. Step by step, detail by detail…
The album offers the biggest bangers right in the middle section. Mike’s massive riffs and Courtney’s famous brutal delivery on “Silk In The Strings” and already mentioned rager “Holy Roller” are a peak of “Eternal Blue”, to which you climb up through more melodic yet emotionally packed pieces. Courtney has already previously proved she is a vocal demon, and her growls can get deeper than the deepest pits of hell. However, she uses a sweeter tone and her voice in a somehow more polished way on this record, especially on the title track, magical “The Summit”, and the heart of ”Halcyon”, with her vocals floating so effortlessly over the instrumentals. Dreamy “Secret Garden” with its anthemic chorus and empowering “Circle With Me” are great single choices, pleasing fans of both; heavy and melodic, instrumentally and also vocally.
Moving on, Spiritbox definitely surprise with “Hurt You” and its sick bouncy groove – well done, Mike! – poppy beats of “We Live In A Strange World” or a dirty “Yellowjacket” featuring Architect’s Sam Carter. Especially this duet has much to offer; it starts off wild, the unclear direction cleaning up halfway, and gives Sam so much space vocally to the point, it’s hard to tell who’s the guest here. Both voices melt into one and fit the creepy atmosphere of this banger, no complaints here.
As with the opener, the closing piece was chosen just as cleverly. Ballad-like “Constance” is an emotional ride with its powerful yet blue message. The vibe gets gloomier as the song progresses, slowly unwinding and mirroring the stages and cruel, ugly side of dementia. Courtney’s vocals are soothing and so pure; the first third of the song has sort of a divine vibe, highly contrasting with the down-tuned, piercing guitars at the end. Eventually, you’re left drained (most likely even ugly crying) and asking what’s next after the last note fades.
Some may call it selling out. Some may call it artistic freedom or evolution. For me, “Eternal Blue” is a solid, beautiful debut album by exceptionally talented people who may have put more emphasis on the beauty rather than the ugly this time around as opposed to their beginnings. And I’m not afraid to say that I enjoyed the caterpillar stage of this evolution a tiny bit more than the butterfly one. Still, the biggest downside of the album overall? Too many single releases prior to the album release, so the wow effect wasn’t as huge as expected, and I felt a bit underwhelmed at first. Despite everything, you will appreciate the album as a whole as each song will grow on you and create an impression of full circle with more listens. This band has so much to offer musically and vocally, and they’re just getting started. So be prepared for them to rewrite the history of heavy music as such! They sure are rewriting the history of metalcore as we speak!
Release date: September 17, 2021
Label: Rise Records
1. Sun Killer
2. Hurt You
3. Yellowjacket (feat. Sam Carter)
4. The Summit
5. Secret Garden
6. Silk In The Strings
7. Holy Roller
8. Eternal Blue
9. We Live In A Strange World
11. Circle With Me