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gasmask_colostomy, October 19th, 2019

The feeling that you know Spirit Adrift’s music intensely familiarly may well wash over you as you listen to Divided by Darkness. Proper, depthy heavy metal is the order of the day on songs like ‘Born Into Fire’, with elated vocals and soaring leads crowning slow melodic or quicker, triplet-based riffing in a manner that has seen Argus and Visigoth reaping major rewards of late. Though this kind of heavy metal is all about power - what with most of the instrumentation pushed to 11 - it also relies on feelings, which is where the doomy pacing and heartfelt vocals come into the equation.

However, the Arizona quartet really have no business sounding as NWOBHM as they do during the later stages of ‘Angel and Abyss’, dry bluesy guitars creaking out rambunctious fills to an up-tempo rocking rhythm. That’s because the album as a whole excels in its smoothness and modern use of chops and balance. The crystalline lead guitar tone sounds physically flawless, while the other instruments are smoothed down without taking the knock totally out of the drums, plus Nate Garrett’s voice sticks to its upper registers, trading between ethereal lightness and impassioned struggle not a million miles from Pallbearer’s latest. However, ‘Angel and Abyss’ proves to be an all-round anomaly, leading in with clean balladic verses, over which Garrett wails poignantly. ‘We Will Not Die’ represents the opposite extreme, riffs gathering pace to crash into a gallop of heavy/power hooves and thunder.

In abandoning some of the stricter doom tropes of past work, Spirit Adrift will certainly open up the passage to a wider audience. If they don’t come to feel the poignant tension of the vocals, they may well be ushered inside by the crisp riffing and catchy arrangements of concise songs like ‘Hear Her’ and the title track. A delightful sense of momentum and ease of movement attends much of the progress through Divided by Darkness, at first lending it a familiar sheen and eventually ensuring that it sticks with the listener as its surprising depth starts to show. Spirit Adrift may be about to become the next major word in pure heavy metal.

Originally written for Metalegion #5 -