Review: Spirit Adrift – Chained to Oblivion

There’s not much gloom in this doom, but every moment is perfectly emotive in unexpected ways.

There’s an emerging sub-style of doom that is capturing me in its smoky cloud. It certainly sounds like doom, but as Joe and Randall mentioned in their recent podcast, there’s something cathartic about it, like an ancient holy reverence (“Church Doom,” per Mr. Thor). It also has a lot in common with the stoner variety, with a fuzzed out guitar and saggy stringed bass, but it stops just short of psychedelic. Last year it was Khemmis that took me by surprise with this full-of-feels doom. This year it is Spirit Adrift.

Chained to Oblivion opens with a classic doom riff, full of heavy bass. It acts as a grounding point for the surfacing originality. Once the song opens up, you are greeted by Spirit Adrift’s signature style. Vocals soar above the fuzz and sludge, and every moment is packed full of potential energy. It instills a suspended anxiety that lasts through the whole song. “Psychic Tide” concludes with an interesting and genuinely captivating fade-away solo-of-sorts. There are a few places on the album, including this outro, where Nate Garrett (the mastermind behind Spirit Adrift) takes obvious risks and bends expectations. These risks set Spirit Adrift apart in an overpopulated and often repetitive genre.

“Marzanna” starts slowly and builds to a big chorus and continues to charm with great fuzzed out solos and a reemergence of that cathartic energy. In this song and throughout the album, there are a few points where the vocals go in an awkward and unexpected direction, but the imperfections somehow make it more endearing. It’s a risk that generally pays off as it grants a look deeper into the very human heart behind the downtuned riffs and distraught lyrics. I wouldn’t mind if this aspect was polished up in future releases, but it is also not really a distraction on Chained to Oblivion.

“Form and Force” (which was played on the aforementioned podcast) is an amazing stand-alone jewel and quintessential Spirit Adrift. If you’re looking for a starting point to the band, this track is the perfect introduction. Somewhere around this track, in the middle of the album, I realized that I was taking a lot of mental notes about the emotion but never getting any more specific than that. There’s an emotional spectrum expressed in Garrett’s voice, with anger, regret, sorrow, and hope all intermingling as one as he sings, “Voices permeate, uniting strands of time,” while the drums hammer home some nebulous feeling deep into our hearts. The combined effect is one of sinewy foreboding, as though we’re dangling by a taut rope over the swirling riptide of the human experience. Garrett’s voice is our only guide through the spray and foam, and yet, unexpectedly, we’re being called to leap headlong into the water. Perhaps letting go won’t be so bad, he tells us.

Through most of the album, Garrett’s risks are mostly relegated to voice and timbre, but there’s a surprising left turn at the intro to “Hum of our Existence,” the majestic final track of the album. Tribal drumming leads off into a riff straight from another world. I’ve never heard anything like the opening two minutes of this track, but this unexpected twist pays off as the final release from the long-held cathartic moment, punctuated with a yell of “How many times can one thing die” that makes my hair stand at attention. This moment is the bow on a beautifully wrapped and structured album; it is the song in which all the emotional tension finally finds release and resolution, and it is a beautiful farewell from the emotional journey we just took.

Patience is key when listening to Spirit Adrift. Taking a few notes from some of the post metal greats, the slow building sections are equally as interesting as the exultant highs on Chained to Oblivion. Every time I listen to this album it makes more and more sense that it is the creative product of one man. The emotional complexity is unmatched, and one vision directing all instruments was the key to communicating these feelings effectively. This is an album that will get people through tough times. You can feel the authenticity, which is a very powerful thing in the days of unending sarcasm and ironic creation. As a debut (not counting the also very good EP), this album exceeds the “proof of concept” that I usually expect, and is a dominant footprint in the current state of doom.

4.5 out of 5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

Be sure to like Spirit Adrift on Facebook, and pre-order the album out this Friday!

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Published on: August 9, 2016

Filled Under: Reviews

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  • Nate Garretts voice really does it for me. 10/10. I have been listing to Specter of Ruin since Nate was on the podcast. Friggin loving ever minute of these new tracks, too.

    This has to be the best “new discovery” of the year thus far, for me.


    • J.R.™

      I agree 100 percent.


  • Celtic Frosty

    Don’t sleep on the EP they released earlier this year, either. It’s so good.

    • best $6 I spent this year IMO.

      *edit* $6.99

    • Howard Dean

      I slept on the EP and all I ended up with was a circular imprint on my back and a warped piece of vinyl.

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    Friday needs to hurry the hell up. Awesome review Joaquin!

  • Elegant Gazing Globe

    If these doom bands had a guitar tone that had more distortion and less fuzzy overdrive, I could really get into them

    • kinda like the tone from Under Lock and Key amirite?

    • Guacamole Jim

      Interesting. I found the guitar tone here to not be very fuzzy at all.

      • Elegant Gazing Globe

        must just be my old man ears

    • Hubert

      I have a deep love for fuzz, but I see what you mean.

  • Waynecro

    This is a really nice review, man. I particularly like this: “The combined effect is one of sinewy foreboding, as though we’re dangling by a taut rope over the swirling riptide of the human experience. Garrett’s voice is our only guide through the spray and foam, and yet, unexpectedly, we’re being called to leap headlong into the water. Perhaps letting go won’t be so bad, he tells us.” Goddamn.

  • Dubbbz

    This album is pretty solid. Sr. Stick caught a lot of the vague feelings I had floating around.

  • Thanks for this review and the gift 😉 😉 😉

  • Does this remind anyone of Pallbearer…but better?

    • Joaquin Stick

      It’s an apt comparison. I was never really hooked by Pallbearer, so there is at least some major difference that makes this so much more interesting to me.

      • Yeah, I liked what I read about Pallbearer when they were first getting press. But that first album was really boring. This is way more engaging.

        • Howard Dean

          Pallbearer is probably one of the most boring bands I’ve ever heard. I have no idea how they got so hyped and so much attention from the metal press, as there are literally dozens (maybe hundreds?) of doom bands with an equivalent sound, and at least a couple dozen doom bands that are far superior. I think they need to be the subject of a market research case study, because apparently their label was on point with promotion.

          • Abradolf Lincler

            i have seen pallbearer more than once. about the same as seeing Yob.

            more boring than seeing Sun O))))

          • Dubbbz

            Pallborer. They got that Pitchfork bump.

  • Abradolf Lincler

    OT: still love this. thanks, jimmy

    • did i introduce the song to you? surely i didn’t introduce This Band to you?!
      this kind of stuff is why i dug that Dekadent band you recommended years back. (which thanks to you for that)

      • Abradolf Lincler

        yes and yes kinda.

    • Joaquin Stick

      I’ve watched this before, but didn’t notice how firggin low Dev wears his guitar. I’m used to my prog shows where it covers at least one nip.

  • great review, bruuuuuuuh! not a big doom guy, but i’m giving the embedded songs a listen. those are the moments when i discover something great that i did not expect!

    • Joaquin Stick

      I only became a “doom guy” over the last year. Well, at least epic/stoner doom varieties. A very unexpected turn for me as well, but I am finding some great stuff because of it!

      • ahhh! i am in a similar boat: newish to the genre and finding gems scattered throughout the land. unlike, say @maikbeninton:disqus who is a walking DOOM encyclopedia 😉

        • Abradolf Lincler

          i miss KJ being around 🙁

  • InfinityOfThoughts

    Well fuck, this is good shit