Spirit Adrift may have only been a band for five years or so, yet their output has been consistent (Divided by Darkness is their third full length since 2016) and it’s been excellent with it. Founded by Nate Garrett as a solo project before bringing in musicians to perform live and in turn contribute to recordings, Spirit Adrift is the vessel in which Garrett brings about change. His life has not been an easy one and he has been distinctly open and honest about his struggles with addiction – Spirit Adrift is more than a band for him and with Divided by Darkness he is using those pitch black moments to bring some light into a world that is sorely in need of hope.
The songs here are steeped in melody and there are many homages paid to doom’s past masters and the band’s personal influences (far too many to go into), and while those influences are more than obvious at times, it’s also clear that for Garrett there is a deep love for the music that made him the person he is today. The melodies that are present pull you into the songs from the outset and each track builds into a stirring and majestic composition that speaks to the heart – there is a vein of emotion running through the record that is difficult to ignore and Divided by Darkness wants you to embrace it.
The hope that lies at the end of the tunnel is something that is constantly burning beneath the climbing guitars and Garrett’s voice; songs speak of light, being reborn, acceptance and finding a way through the darkness and in these eight songs there is a narrative thread that most people can attach themselves to in order to find a way through the turmoil. “We Will Not Die” opens the album on stunning guitar work with a clear, pure tone that pours notes into the spaces left behind Garrett’s voice, itself a beautiful instrument, and builds towering walls that envelope you in sound.
The songs on display on Divided by Darkness don’t shy away from difficult moments and in “Born Into Fire” we hear anger radiate from the words with the vocals taking on a less harmonious tone and instead the staccato style pulses with a rage that brings a renewed passion to the proceedings. The story arcs into fiery territory - there is an obstacle that needs to be overcome and that theme lays waste to the song before it slips into more sombre tones and follows the traditional doom route to its inevitable end; vocals rise up to meet the sky and the overdriven guitars gives a heated finale to the track. The transformative nature of Divided by Darkness is filtered through a heavy metal lens and while the doom tendencies of previous works are illuminated at times, it is the searing guitar solos and Garrett’s voice that push Spirit Adrift further away from their beginnings and into a modern heavy metal realm.
The initial steps of “Angel & Abyss” are glorious; the guitars climb higher into the heavens while the melancholy tones and simple progression of what comes next allows the song space to breathe around Garrett’s stark, clear voice. The song is sorrowful and is laden with contradictions, as is life, and Spirit Adrift pull their story around the core idea that nothing comes without a price, that to find hope and light you must experience darkness and loss and in this song we hear emotion in each breath – it’s majestic and powerful and within it is the knowledge that yes, things can become better if you realise that the past has driven you forward in order to be free.
This is a theme that is prevalent on Divided by Darkness, that in order to find your freedom you must accept that the past has happened, it cannot be changed and while you are different now, it is hopefully for the better. The songs on this record are odes to change, cosmic energy and the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel and for Spirit Adrift the fear that once was all consuming is now a memory that fuels rebirth. “Living Light” forges this idea in its prose, its soaring synths and the cascading sorrow that signals true change before "The Way of Return" spins out into the cosmos on incandescent sounds and the luminous promise of hope.
9.0 / 10
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