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Album Reviews

Album Review: Spiritbox – Eternal Blue

 

 

 

Release Date: 17th September 2021

Label: Rise Records

For Fans Of : Deftones, Architects, TesseracT

 

It’s the most anticipated debut album of the year by one of the most hyped bands of the year; Eternal Blue by Spiritbox is upon us. The singles released ahead of the album have each showed a different facet of the Spiritbox sound, building anticipation to a fever pitch with their gradual rollout often accompanied by a video, new merch drop or both. To say the least, expectations are sky-high for a band that came seemingly out of nowhere to explode into the consciousness of heavy music fans the world over. But can it live up to its own hype?

The answer is quite simply, a resounding yes. Eternal Blue doesn’t sound like a debut, and in some ways, it isn’t. This is a collection of songs the band have been working on for a few years now, taking every chance to tweak and shape them into exactly how they envisioned them. There’s a huge variety of moods, textures and styles across the album, from the deliriously heavy (‘Silk In The Strings’. ‘Holy Roller’) to the more ethereal (‘Eternal Blue’, ‘Constance’) and everything in between. 

Electronic pulsing open first track ‘Sun Killer’ and a lurching, off-kilter drumming pattern disorients before  blossoming into the chorus proper. While initially a softer opener, the final moments see vocalist Courtney LaPlante bring her formidable roar to bear. Latest single ‘Hurt You’ follows with its eerie synths that underscore verses and nu-metal inspired riffing. As an opening gambit it’s a strong move and it’s only strengthened by ‘Yellowjacket’ that features none other than Sam Carter of Architects for the album’s only feature. His distinctive voice, along with crunching riffs and LaPlante’s own vocals, round the song out into powerful, groove-laden territory. ‘The Summit’ takes a different tack entirely, opening with mellow vocals and guitars with a chorus riff reminiscent of progressive metal in the vein of Periphery or TesseracT, though the vocals are as always, pure Spiritbox thanks to LaPlante’s unique timbre and the often airy, ethereal quality to her singing. 

There’s an ebb and flow to the album that’s evidenced through the way tracks shift from heavy, to more atmospheric and back again. Nowhere is this clearer than in the shift from ‘Secret Garden’ to the rip-roaring combo of ‘Silk In The Strings’ and ‘Holy Roller’. ‘Secret Garden’ was initially revealed as a single and in an album of unique songs, still manages to stand out from the pack. Its intricate guitar lines and soft vocals in the verses give way to a soaring chorus that’s arguably one of the finest moments on Eternal Blue and guaranteed to be screamed back at them live with a hook that’ll stick in your head for days. 

But onto the heavy numbers; ‘Holy Roller’ was rapturously received upon release with its Midsommar-inspired video and is easily one of the most visceral songs in their arsenal. Here, it’s preceded by ‘Silk In The Strings’ that gives it a serious run for its money as the heaviest song they’ve ever written. Electronics underpin guitars that stab and bludgeon in equal measure, while LaPlante’s vocals are as visceral as they’ve ever been. We’ve all heard ‘Holy Roller’ by now, both in its original form and with Ryo Kinoshita of Crystal Lake but that still doesn’t rob it of its power. The churning riff work, the obnoxiously heavy breakdown paired with a deceptively simple framework; it all shows Spiritbox can write some seriously hefty songs.

It’s fitting of Eternal Blue’s dynamic nature that we follow the heaviest material with the title track, an airy and spacious piece that favours ambience over the guttural heft of before. It’s one of the album’s defining moments, opening up yet more scope for exploration. While it’s a more ambient piece, it doesn’t forgo the guitars but they’re focused on creating and enhancing the atmospheric elements instead of crushing riffs. Similar can be said of ‘We Live In A Strange World’, that favours a minimalist less-is-more approach in its opening moments before blossoming. 

The final three songs seem to take all that’s come before and meld them together into something refreshing and new. ‘Halcyon’ takes the expansive nature of ‘Eternal Blue’, but right toward the end injects some venomous, though vulnerable-sounding screams that are nothing short of goosebump-inducing. The final moments though, belong to ‘Circle With Me’ and ‘Constance’, two songs that again were released as singles but that flow together so much better in the album tracklisting. ‘Circle With Me’ contains what is arguably a contender for mosh call of the year with the lyrics “I held the power of a dying sun / I climb the altar and claim my place as god”. The bass work during verses are of particular note, underpinning the breathy vocals. Finally we close with ‘Constance’ and for being arguably the most mellow track, it’s fitting that it’s here, at the end of it all. It’s introspective, while also looking back at what has come before with an almost wistful air that makes it the perfect closer to the album. 

What Spiritbox have achieved in so little time is nothing short of remarkable; the hype surrounding them reached fever pitch following the announcement of Eternal Blue and it felt almost impossible for them to live up to it. But live up to it they have, crafting an album that takes the best elements of metalcore of the past decade or more, infuses it with a raw vulnerability and an atmospheric quality that’s all their own. This album was years in the making and it shows – in it, there’s an irrepressible creative flair that evolves throughout and thanks to its lengthy gestation and the band’s own perfectionism, Eternal Blue flows beautifully and feels like a truly cohesive whole that delivers on its promises and then some. 

 

Rating : 8/10

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