Reviewed: [October 2020]
Released [2020 20 Buck Spin]
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
The traditional metal duo Spirit Adrift manage to capture the, well, spirit of metal past yet present it with a modern feel and panache like few others. Instead of slavish devotion to aesthetic or sound – in this case late ’70s to early ’90s glory days of metal – the band key on the elements that made it great and deliver it from a fresh perspective, in a way proving that everything old is new again. Or something like that.
Anyway, the Arizona duo – Nathan Garrett on vocals, guitar, bass and songwriting and Marcus Bryant on drums – are obviously well schooled in the classic metal of Dio/Dio-era Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Saxon as well as the nascent Southern swagger of Corrosion of Conformity during its hard rock transformation, Down and Crowbar. Hooks, grooves and harmonized/dual solos are all over the place on Enlightened in Eternity, the band’s fourth full-length, as are dramatic melodies that deliver both catchiness and heft.
Occasionally, the idol worship is readily apparent, as on “Astral Leviathan,” which is pretty much a dead ringer for “Heaven And Hell” punctuated by some Maiden-esque dogfight lead work. But way more often than not, Spirit Adrift give the material a distinctive stamp and largely avoid the “rehash” mistakes so many other bands have made along the way.
The buoyant chug of “Ride In The Light” and “Cosmic Conquest” or the speed metal giddy-up of “Harmony of the Spheres” and “Stronger Than Your Pain” certainly boast a vintage vibe. But when teamed with rich, full-bodied contemporary production, the duo’s purposeful delivery and Garrett’s crafty songwriting they rise above mere “retro” and establish an identity all there own.
Even when the band straddle the fence – as on “Screaming From Beyond” that captures the immediacy of early Def Leppard or AC/DC in its simple, infectious hookiness and thumping tempo or the aching, nearly 11-minute finale “Reunited In The Void” that channels Crowbar’s low-end slog – the tunes ultimately emerge as more than faithful homages. “Screaming” transforms itself midway through with a nifty, slow-jam lead break and bluesy outro to contrast the perkier first half. “Reunited” is flavored with organ splashes and plays out with a series of frisky grooves and lead tradeoffs to finish on a high note.
In the end, Enlightened in Eternity, is a very good, and sometimes great, “metal” album. Though obviously steeped in historical benchmarks, it deftly avoids dwelling too long there. Instead, they serve as springboard for new ideas or alternative takes. And while not exactly transformational, this approach shows imagination and inspiration, and Spirit Adrift more than make the most of it.