I blame Kmac2021. An excellent musician who disguises himself as a YouTube meme, I first stumbled on his videos blending songs from the likes of the Beatles with death metal. Hi. Lar. I. Ous. No, but seriously, they are funny and totally worth checking out. One day, a number of years ago, he linked to a track from the self-titled EP by a band call Spiritbox.
I checked that album out, found a sound I enjoyed, and added it to my library. Some additional singles were released over the next few years, and I would be aware enough to add them to my library, but not aware enough I found myself going back with sufficient frequency to really have the band click with me.
Enter “Holy Roller”. Reaction videos started popping up on YouTube very shortly after the release of the video in July 2020. This time I think it was Nik Nocturnal’s video that popped up and I decided to give it a watch.
W. T. F.
It was heavy. Really heavy. The video was appropriately creepy. It grabbed me. I was fascinated. I started gobbling up the band’s previous work, in particular the singles “Blessed Be” and “Rule of Nines”. Here was a band with a powerful, versatile vocalist, super clean and punchy production, wicked guitars, and just an overall accessible, while still interestingly complex package. Add on to that, in all their social media and interactions with their Patreon supporters, the band just seemed like chill, super cool people.
I started following them in earnest and they continued to release a number of additional singles. Anticipation for the full album built for me. And then Eternal Blue dropped.
I’ve been asked what genre Spiritbox would fall into. I guess I would say metalcore. But I feel like that label sells them very short. Lead singer Courtney Laplante has a beautiful clean voice with an often ethereal quality to it. Her screams are things of legend, and her growls, while not the most guttural of female vocalists out there, are very powerful and dynamic. Husband Mike Stringer is an excellent guitarist, combining simple playing with often deceptive complexity, creating layers that help to build the atmosphere in their music.
It really is this atmospheric nature of their music that I think sets them apart from most metalcore bands. Songs have very heavy moments, consistent with the genre. Yet these are often more than balanced by atmosphere, electronic elements, and clean guitar playing.
And Eternal Blue embraces and embodies that diversity. There are songs that are just complete bangers (see “Holy Roller”), while others are tranquil tracks that really lust allow the atmosphere and the emotion of the tracks to wash over you (“We Live In A Strange World”, “Constance”). There are also tracks that are relatively straight forward metal songs, while others are soaked in electronica and layers of effects.
The album also flows fantastically from track to track. In the era of singles (interestingly, many were released prior to the release of Eternal Blue as a whole), this is one of those albums that really was written and recorded in a way to encourage listening from start to finish.
In a genre that can, at times, become boring and predictable, Spiritbox do an exceptional job on Eternal Blue of keeping things interesting. While it rarely feels out of place (with the exception, for me, of the chorus of “Yellowjacket”), the zigging when a zag is expected is done class and skill. Spiritbox seems to really be hitting their stride at the moment, and Eternal Blue is an excellent demonstration as to why that is happening. It is a fascinating release, and makes me that much more interested in what the band will bring next.