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Let’s Talk About This Incredible Spirit Adrift Album

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Spirit Adrift’s latest album, Divided by Darkness, has yet to grace these esteemed pages of MetalSucks, and that is a damn shame. Don’t be surprised if you see it on multiple MS staffers’ year-end lists, including mine.

Just how did it escape our grasp until now? While “the know-nothing dipshits who run MetalSucks completely missed the boat” is the obvious answer, it’s only half true. Our coverage on this website is almost entirely news-based, meaning we write about new singles, videos and tour announcements as they happen while official reviews go up pre-release (once an album out you can easily hear for yourself what it sounds like so no review is needed, our thinking goes). I didn’t get hip to Divided by Darkness until just after the album dropped, so there was nothing urgent to write about… and I let it slip through. But that stops now!

Everywhere you turn someone is talking about Spirit Adrift, and with good reason; Divided by Darkness is an absolutely phenomenal album. I think the reason it’s resonated so deeply with so many metalheads is that it touches several different sub-genres and eras of metal, often blatantly, but brings them all into one central locus that’s distinctly Spirit Adrift. Rooted in traditional heavy metal like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden with frequent detours into doomier territory, the band wears their influences proudly on their sleeves, almost comically so, but never past the point of absurdity and always in perspective of the whole.

Take the intro of “Born into Fire,” which is as close to Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” as a song could possibly get without actually being “For Whom the Bell Tolls:”

Then there’s the riff that anchors the back half of “Angel & Abyss,” a not-so-subtle nod to Randy Rhoads-era Ozzy:

And the instrumental middle section of album-closer “The Way of Return,” which is such a dead-ringer for Pink Floyd’s “Dogs” that the first time I heard it I had to make sure Spotify’s auto-recommendation engine hadn’t engaged after the Spirit Adrift album finished:

Those are but a few examples. Lesser bands have borrowed heavily from their heroes and been excoriated for it, but not Spirit Adrift, who the hoi polloi can’t seem to get enough of. The reason, I suspect, is that not only do the band seamlessly weave these sections into their songs — the rest of which sound distinctly their own — but they borrow from everyone. Spirit Adrift aren’t trying to be any specific metal heroes so much as they’re trying to be ALL of them, and as long as it’s executed well (which it is) there’s something about that approach that’s not only comforting and familiar, but relatable. To some extent isn’t that what all of us are trying to do when we form a band? Given, these guys have plenty of experience (three of their members also play in Gatecreeper), but once a band catches on the way Gatecreeper have there are suddenly expectations to sound a certain way.

To be clear, Divided in Darkness isn’t all homage, far from it; the vast majority sounds like Spirit Adrift and no one else, not to mention the stellar musicianship throughout. But it’s those musical tributes — and the way they’re weaved into the band’s own sonic fabric — that makes the album so memorable. It’s an instant classic.

Jam it below. Divided by Darkness is out now on 20 Buck Spin; pick it up here,

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