Just a little over a year since their 2016 debut and mere months after a collaborative cover split with Khemmis, Arizona’s Spirit Adrift has returned with their second full-length album. A lot has changed in that time though, as the once one-man project has added additional musicians to its ranks following some touring experience. In addition, Curse of Conception ends up packing in more songs while somehow being less than a minute shorter in total length.
These factors would make it seem like Spirit Adrift has become a completely new band, and they certainly explore wider sonic territory this time around. In a way similar to their comrades in Khemmis or even mid-era The Gates of Slumber, the band opts for a fusion of doom and classic metal. The vocals take on a more lamenting tone in place of the debut’s overt Warrel Dane impression, perhaps inspired by the inclusion of Goya’s guitarist/vocalist Jeff Owens, the tone is one of charging determination, and the guitars have an intricate feel likely inspired by bands such as Iron Maiden and Manilla Road.
Despite indications of a more accessible format, the songwriting isn’t dumbed down by any means. Most of the songs still operate at a lumbering pace, though differentiations can be found in the chugging riffs on the title track and “Onward, Inward,” the almost ballad-like “To Fly with Broken Wings,” and the building speed on “Starless Age (Enshrined)” and “Graveside Invocation.” I also think “Wakien” is a strong instrumental, and find “Spectral Savior” to be particularly memorable, if only because the first half’s rhythm sounds like a direct lift from Pentagram’s “Change of Heart.” Talk about reviewing your choices, amirite?
While Spirit Adrift still has some time before they can really wrestle the reins of the epic heavy/doom movement away from Khemmis and Pallbearer, it is nice to see their progression on Curse of Conception. Expanding the lineup was certainly a smart idea, as was evolving their style to take on more influences, but the band needs a bit more experience under their belts before they will give us a true classic. In the meantime, this is still an enjoyable listen for anybody who likes their heavy metal slow and meaty.
“To Fly with Broken Wings”