By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
Starting over for any musician in a metal band is never easy. As long as they have the drive, talent, determination, and nerve, they can succeed. That is what I have being seeing with this exciting new group from Canada, Spiritbox. Formed from the ashes of the metalcore group Iwrestledabearonce, this outfit was formed by the husband-wife duo of Mike Stringer (guitarist) and Courtney LaPlante (singer). Metal Ambassador Jose Mangin has promoted the shit out of them last year, and for good reason. Between Stringer’s harmoniously destructive riffs and LaPlante’s ability to be delicate and ferocious on the mic, Spiritbox has become one of heavy metal’s hottest commodities. After releasing two successful EPs, they finally put together their debut album with Rise Records, Eternal Blue. Along with bassist Bill Crook, they look to continue to bring glamor and dread to the metal masses.
Eternal Blue starts off with “Sun Killer.” A steady, rhythmic pulse enters along with an open palm riff. The drumming is fast-paced as LaPlante brings delicacy to her vocals on this tune. Her soft approach gels nicely with the aggressive guitar attacks. At 2:30, LaPlante starts to chant “Sun Killer sing me to sleep,” and then becomes chaotic. I really enjoyed that incredible twist. “Hurt You” is the latest single, and its bite is vicious. Crook adds progressive beats to the bass that mixes well with Stringer’s tenacious licks. The lyrics are hard-hitting as it touches the subject of abusive relationships. LaPlante kicks ass as she screams fiercely at the verses while bring it down for the chorus. “Yellowjacket” is where metalcore, djent, and EDM join forces. I was at first skeptical by the electronic melody, but Spiritbox brings out its meanness as Architect’s Sam Carter brings in his metalcore flair. The beat is very danceable, and fans will flock to the mosh pits for this song. “The Summit” is a bit different beast all together. It has a mellow flow that reminds me of 90s rock. LaPlante is sensitive on the microphone, never once screaming. Her composure is outstanding, and Stringer puts together a solid beat that is hard but listenable.
“Secret Garden” is full of alternative and progressive metal splendor. For me, it was Crook’s stellar bass playing on this tune. He adds a little funk to his djent-soaked groove, and it kills. LaPlante continues to be bright on her clean vocals. Up next is “Silk in the Strings,” where LaPlante snarls and howls with brutality. She lets the demon inside her take the mic and it slays everything in site. The drummer adds some doom flavor into his hardcore/metalcore swagger. This is a pure Butcher Babies inspired song. We come to the halfway point of the album as we hear “Holy Roller.” Released last year, it gave us a taste of what was to come on Eternal Blue. Stringer, Crook, and the drummer shatter the glass with their abrasive and chaotic beat. LaPlante steals it with probably one of her best screaming performances ever recorded. When I heard this song being debuted last year, I knew this was the best teaser for the record. The title track, “Eternal Blue,” is Spiritbox’s ballad. This takes post metal to a new level with its soft but heavy riffs as LaPlante lets herself be vulnerable. Stringer wails a simple yet tasty solo that meshes with the crunchy main licks. Experimentation has rewarded them.
“We Live in a Strange World” has an interesting melody. In the beginning, LaPlante is singing cleanly over a synth/EDM style beat. It was alright, but towards the middle, the metalcore sound returns while LaPlante does not raise her voice. This is their most complex song of the album. “Halcyon” is where Spiritbox continues to experiment with new sounds and ways to play it. Alternative soaked, the music gets a slap in the middle-end of the tune as LaPlante becomes monstrous again. Furthermore, toward the end, the music takes a sharp left turn and smacks you in the face. Did not see that coming. “Circle With Me” is the album’s first singles from this year Pure metalcore with a groove metal beat, LaPlante once again dons an angelic voice that at times is overtaken by her hellacious screams. When they reach the bridge, thrash metal comes into the play, laced with bombastic screams. This is a well-crafted tune. We reach the end of Eternal Blue, and Spiritbox saves the best for last with “Constance.” Inspired by Stringer’s late grandmother who lost her battle with dementia, this tune nails it when they deal with loss and grief. It gets to me because I still hurt at times from losing my dad. So, in some way, it hits home heavily. Alternative metal and djent are combined to create a spectacular melody.
Spiritbox has been proving to people that they are the future of heavy metal, and they be right. Blue Eternal is an amazing album, and one of the best debuts of the year. The group have made Rise Records proud with this one. It proves how determined they are to make it to the top. LaPlante and Stringer are an effective duo that round out their sound perfectly with Crook joining the group. In my opinion, LaPlante is a combination of Deftones’ Chino Moreno and Evanescence’s Amy Lee, bringing the light and dark side of metal together. Touring early next year with Underøath, it will a thrill to see them live. To Spiritbox, I salute you. Horns up!!!
1. Sun Killer
2. Hurt You
3. Yellowjacket feat Sam Carter
4. The Summit
5. Secret Garden
6. Silk In The Strings
7. Holy Roller
8. Eternal Blue
9. We Live In A Strange World
11. Circle With Me
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