LOUDER REVIEWS: ‘Divided By Darkness (Re-issue)’ – Spirit Adrift
Spirit Adrift have been making a megalithic impact with their innovative metal. 2020 promises to be another huge year for the Arizona-originating act, with a plan to release another new album. To mark the time as significant, they are re-issuing 2017’s highly praised ‘Curse of Conception’ and of course, the 2019 release ‘Divided by Darkness’. The later instantly became cult favourite last year, becoming a staple of ‘Albums of the year’ lists. Rightly so, the records a contemporary classic. No one could hear the bringing together of ferocious performances with distinctly retro songwriting and disagree. No changes have been made to the track-list; there are no instrumental or mixing embellishments. Even the album art retains a hallucinogenic presentation. Everyone deserves to hear the music on display here, and that’s the entire intention. Many acts utilise these opportunities to include live cuts or change the production, yet there’s no need for any of that this time. A start to finish listen, in fact, several, are all that’s required. Any extra tricks or changes would only serve to dilute the magnificent experience.
An earth-shattering, call to battle opens ‘We Will Not Die’, the drums establishing a massive presence. The following composition is transcendent, becoming pertinent to the fantastical and scientific themes. Guitars intersect and epically twist around each other, constantly leading into a new experiment, a unique exploration fostering the concept of dystopian other-worldliness. “We’ve been asleep too long, where did the dream go wrong” Garret sings in his elusive, yet convincing tones, demonstrating his penchant for combining razor-sharp, poignant messaging, with intricate storytelling. Genres do not acutely describe the engaging quality of the experience: everything’s too psychedelic to be thrash metal yet too commanding to be prog. The title track continues to perpetrate the perpetual changeability. Splicing lead work leads into a slower, cascading tempo where the complex instrumentals are just as imposing as that of the opener. Bringing more multiplicity is the mesmerising closing section where a sensation of beauty creeps into to the already colourful, varied mix.
‘Born into Fire’ excellently elucidates these musicians' aptitude for coalescing outstanding melodies and gnashing distortion. With the prominently fuzzy effects, there’s a vintage charisma present. Meanwhile, the contrast between the enormous reverberations with the boundless harmonies exuding from the musicianship, create a theatrical sense of presence. On another arc, ‘Angel and Abyss’ hypnotically charms with serene, tranquil balladry – a feel that's overwhelmingly sentimental, yet by no means counterfeit or cliché. Rather, the transitions between the blissful acoustics and spiralling electrics, create a feeling of contemplative depth, the impressively forceful outro furthering the existential narrative of the piece. ‘Tortured by Time’ keeps the impetus firmly in place. Another juggernaut, the track constantly creates tension, in such a way that the listener can only immerse themselves in the vivid progressions, entangling with the intense synchronisations.
Into the final few anthems, ‘Hear Her’ brings those rushing evolutions, and cerebral extremities to the forefront once more. Even on the shortest song, they retain their strange experimentation, executing them in a considered way, never once being overly verbose or pretentious. ‘Living Light’ proves indisputably fierce – a cascade of visceral rhythms uniting to form an arresting penultimate work, which combines the trippy qualities of sludge with the cohesive charm of symphonic power. We close out on ‘The Way of the Return’, an entirely instrumental space-rock odyssey, where the multifarious elements, combine with the adventurous aura, to foster the sensation of being on a journey. The closing moments do not just deliver a colossal finish, they declare that these musicians will continue to further their ability to create extraordinary music, challenging the boundaries of everything many consider plausible.
Overall, here’s a re-issue that's firmly needed. By paying homage to the acts who founded metal, while expanding the capabilities or determinations of the style, the record defines itself as a vital landmark. A promising future has now been set for Spirit Adrift. We will soon see how they continue to integrate themselves into this shared and time-honoured tradition!
The re-issue of ‘Divided By Darkness’ will be released on April 24th 2020 via Century Media Records.
Check out the video for 'Tortured by Time' below: