Fashions old and performances bold.
Though relatively new to the American metal scene, Arizona/Texas born doom metal trustees Spirit Adrift have put out an impressive body of work that would rival many full careers in the business. Originally conceived as a side-project of Gatecreeper guitarist Nate Garrett and also featuring several other musicians from said death metal outfit, they’ve since blazed a trail not all that dissimilar from other prominent doom outfits also hailing from west of the Atlantic. They’ve often been compared to the likes of Pallbearer and Khemmis, though a close examination of the first two albums of this project reveals a band with a greater affinity for the older heavy metal trappings of Dio-era Black Sabbath, Cirith Ungol and Candlemass, albeit communicated through a modern, mid-2010s production and songwriting lens. However, with the release of their third studio LP “Divided By Darkness,” this side-venture turned full time endeavor shed much of its earlier doom trappings for something much closer to the pure heavy metal sounds of the 80s, and their newest EP “Forge Your Future” builds upon the same stylistic premise.
It should be noted that while this album is stylistically a full on excursion into traditional metal trappings comparable to several recent entries into the still booming New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal, it expresses itself in a manner that doesn’t wholly forget the project’s doom metal roots. For his part, mastermind Nate Garrett has taken on most of the instrumental work apart from the drums while also retaining vocal duties, and the performance that he brings to the table is heavily reminiscent of the prototypical sound that dominated the style in the early 80s. The riff work and lead passages showcase a strong Tony Iommi meets Vivian Campbell influence, occasionally leaning into to Jake E. Lee territory during some of the fancier moments. However, the songwriting has a bit more of an epic, drawn out character to it that makes it a bit similar to something that Manilla Road or Diamond Head might dabble in, and Garrett’s more every man vocal style has a bit more in common with Mark Shelton or Mike Scalzi than the flamboyance of Ronnie James Dio.
While only consisting of three songs that culminate in just less than 20 minutes of music, this proves a highly expansive listening experience. The opening epic slough and title anthem “Forge Your Future” checks all of the boxes of a lofty march towards the fantastical after the heart of Dio’s early 80s works both with and following his tenure in Black Sabbath, channeling the mid-paced march of “Heaven And Hell”, the grittier crunch of “Holy Diver” and also some of the atmospheric nuances of mixed ballads like “Don’t Talk To Strangers” and “Invisible”, all the while keeping things static and simple in the manner that a doom metal outfit covering one of those aforementioned songs might. The more driving mid-paced “Wake Up” takes a few riffing cues from Judas Priest and Accept to come up with more of a denim and leather type shtick, but also kicks up the flashy speed riffing about halfway through to channel some faster Ozzy material from back in the day like “I Don’t Know” and “Over The Mountain”. Meanwhile, the towering epic closer “Invisible Enemy” goes full on NWOBHM mode and really lays on the riff happy guitar work like Brian Tatler in his prime cutting heads with Iron Maiden circa “Piece Of Mind.”
Sometimes good things can come in small packages, and while “Forge Your Future” would be even better if it were an 8-10 song LP timing between 40 and 50 minutes in length, what is presented here more than gets the job done. It splits the difference between the grandiose character of classic heavy metal entries and the more working class ideals of the rougher end of the NWOBHM almost evenly, and comes out with something that can be equally enjoyed by fans of The Lord Weird Slough Feg and more power metal-tinged outfits like Astral Doors and Hammerfall. Just about the only thing missing from this equation is a full lineup to recreate it in the live setting, which hopefully will be remedied in the coming months as these songs are prime cut for the sea of lighters and raised fists that Dio would command at the Philadelphia Spectrum back in the mid-1980s. The future that is being forged here is bright and impressive, and with the hopeful end of lockdowns for the foreseeable future, the sound presented here will continue to bear fruit in the studio and beyond
Released By: Century Media Records
Released On: August 27th, 2021
Genre: Heavy Metal
- Nate Garrett / Vocals, guitar, bass, drums, piano, synthesizer
- Marcus Bryant / Drums
- Preston Bryant / Guitar
- Sonny DeCarlo / Bass
“Forge Your Future” track-listing:
1- Forge Your Future (06:52)
2- Wake Up (05:28)
3- Invisible Enemy (07:32)
Keeping the metal end up in the continental United States, one of the more curious doom turned old school heavy metal projects from the southwest delivers a streamlined yet highly effective dose of metallic traditionalism that dovetails quite closely with the ongoing New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal craze