Today’s edition of Call From The Grave features a much more recent act, one that left on a strong note and led to the creation of multiple other bands. Spirit Division are a doom metal group that drives through the tunnels of stoner territory, and they were active from 2013 until the tail end of 2018. Upon splitting, a few other projects began to take form. Guitarist Andy Bowerman would go onto Milquetoast, a noisy punk driven band. Earlier guitarist Stephen Hoffman took on a new doom project titled Tar Pit. And bassist/vocalist and fellow Vault writer Chris Latta went full focus on a heavy/power metal-type project called Lavaborne.
But looking at what went on in these five years, three full-lengths managed to hit the scene, and if you ask me, each one grew progressively tighter in songwriting. As some say, it’s good to end on a higher note, which the band absolutely did with Forgotten Planet, which came out last year a few months prior to the final show. I’ve decided today to take a closer look at all three of them together, and see how they stack up.
Spirit Division (2015)
Spirit Division kicks things off with a very slow stomp and rather standard parameters for the style; at first. Before you know it, you’re launched into dual-vocal-topped fuzzy surfaces that are felt rather heard, courtesy of the bass-lines. “Bloodletting” changes the entire energy with a much fiercer delivery and a threatening voice. “Through The Rounds” gives a little air after the kickback with somber, stoner-ridden riffs ‘til the end. Closer “Disillusioned” is my favorite because of the dance-friendly grooves. Beyond these few standouts, the rest of the songs have some chops but don’t contain many memorable peaks. Awkward transition is a bit too prevalent for my taste, but no deadly sins are committed. Although it may not rip out your brain and stain it with its memory, Spirit Division is a mature disc for a debut. Worth hearing once, and it isn’t overly long either.
Final Grade: C
No Rapture (2016)
Everything about No Rapture is done in a similar vein to the self-titled, except there’s a substantial step-up in quality. The flow is way smoother, the licks are a lot more memorable, and there are not nearly as many awkward passages. The grooves I mentioned being present on the last album’s closer are all over the place here, especially on the title track and “When The Sun Explodes.” Sabbath influence can easily be heard, particularly from the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath era in “A Dark Request.” “Rewinding Life” packs such a punch that I can’t help but love every minute of this. Chris and Stephen’s trade-off singing style fit the shoe very well here. This is quite a quick hitter, as it just barely touches the thirty-minute mark, but most of it is loaded with fun.
Final Grade: B+
Forgotten Planet (2018)
Everybody in the band peaks at Forgotten Planet, and it also has a handful of firsts, all of which boasts this further. Speed becomes a big factor here, and though odd for a doom band it’s needed for the flow of the waves. Previously, it wasn’t very prominent. Songs like “River Rising” showcase this heavily as well as the blistering blow at the end of “Half-Hearted.” Solos shine brighter in the mix, as they don’t get drowned in fuzz and are played more concisely with a cleaner cut. And of course, with Chris taking all main-vocal duties, his voice sounds way more crisp and clean than before. “Seeking The Crow Witch” breaks this rule, which allows for thunderous verses and a calmer, suspense drenched chorus, but it’s wonderful. “Nothing To Be Missed” and “The Light That Shines” are my favorite songs the band ever did, as they both capitalize on all of these tactics the most and make for the tightest tracks. Everything present pulls off the “catchy” approach while maintaining intricacy, which I give endless points for. Did I mention that there’s a sick cover of Black Sabbath’s “Solitude” on the CD copies?
Final Grade: A
All releases can be found on Spirit Division’s Bandcamp page.