PICK OF THE WEEK: Spirit Adrift’s Garrett pushes through tumult, rises up on ‘Chained to Oblivion’

Spirit AdriftMetal is many things to many people, and it all depends on your frame of mind and personal journey to determine its impact in your life. It could be a way of feeling more powerful or energized, simply by riding the force of riffs. It might be that it’s something that gets you in touch with your darker side as you delve into fury and madness of the music. It also can be a means of catharsis.

For others, it can be a place of healing, a way of working through some of the toughest, most challenging days of your life when you feel like there’s very little on which to grasp your balance. For Nate Garrett, he found that very thing in his Spirit Adrift project, a source for which to pour his emotions, fears, and self into and to climb out of the hell in which he found himself. Garrett struggled with an addition to alcohol, nearly watching the problem consume his life, and his gift for music, and it took going through rehabilitation to find his way to the other side, and to Spirit Adrift. Now, with his life changing for the better and with so many creative ideas flowing through him, he crafted the project’s excellent debut EP “Behind – Beyond,” released earlier this year, and now the first full-length “Chained to Oblivion.” To say this is a triumph musically might sell short what it means to Garrett from a personal standpoint. But the fact that he’s thriving, and his music is pumping a different kind of blood into metal, is something to truly, fully celebrate.

Spirit Adrift cover1Garrett first gained notoriety playing lead guitar for Take Over and Destroy (he announced his amicable departure from the band earlier this year) and even plays with Tucson-based death dealers Gatecreeper (full-length out on October on Relapse). But in Spirit Adrift, he seems to truly have found himself. Much of what you hear on “Chained to Oblivion” is situated in doom, but there also is a nice dose of old-school heavy metal. Also, Garrett eschews the common trappings of growls and shrieks, instead opting for his soulful, powerful singing voice. It’s another element that lets Spirit Adrift stand apart, and it helps Garrett infuse his message with even more emotion. Plus, he sings the fuck out of these songs, making his decision to go that route pay massive dividends. In another sign of growth for the band, Garrett also announced a full live lineup, as he’ll be joined by Jeff Owens on guitars and vocals, Christopher Croons on bass, and Marcus Bryant on drums.

“Psychic Tide” starts off the record with drums rumbling awake, a thick bassline cutting through the middle, and burly riffs making their way into the mix. Garrett’s powerful singing launches soon thereafter, wailing, “Close your eyes, try to believe what we’re doing is real,” with him building a nice verse-chorus structure that works really well. Soloing bleeds in, with leads going hot and cold, and the whole thing dissolves into militaristic drum beats and a total psyche out. “Marzanna” is doomy and rich from the start, with the pace plodding, and the playing trudging heavily. “Burning into winter, sanity in flames,” Garrett howls, with warm guitar work entering the fray, bringing a sorrowful glaze over top the thing, though seemingly warning that danger remains present. Rich melodies and rousing “ahhhh” calls carry the track to its final destination. “Force and Form” also pounds into the mud, with guitars spiraling and smoking, and the pace slipping into clean spots. “Friend, foe, stranger, questioning these forces, that’s all I’ve ever known,” Garrett calls, letting you swim through the potential layers of meaning in that line, with the cut coming to an abrupt end.

The 10:59-long title track initially floats in and then hangs in the air, with calming guitar lines boiling, and a sorrowful bloodletting unleashed. It’s tough not to get caught up in the tumult here and what Garrett is expressing, and just as you’re lulled into psychological paralysis, he ruptures you awake by unloading power. Strong soloing barrels through the song, as Garrett notes, “We have bled a river, drained ourselves together,” a line that very well could be directed right back at himself. The remainder goes through doomy terrain, lifts itself into dreamy, gazey skies, and rushes out on an emotional high note. The 11:09 closer “Hum of Our Existence” begins with tribal-style drumming, with psyche-rich guitar spilling into the scene, and a trippy aura unfurling itself. The song punches things out in a calculated manner, with Garrett wondering, “How many times can one thing die?” something I’m sure those of us with our own struggles have asked ourselves many times. As the track goes on, the menace lands, smothering and charging, setting the pace for the final explosion, with Garrett howling in defiance, “The raging storm before the dawn of man won’t ruin us again,” as the track burns away.

We’re thrilled that Garrett came out of his dark nightmare healthier and stronger, and Spirit Adrift seems to have him soaring through the metallic stratosphere. “Chained to Oblivion” is a powerful statement both musically and emotionally, and the songs burst into the room and capture you. Garrett used these songs and this band to move through his problems and prove he has far more to offer the world. If it can inspire one other person to do the same, that would make this a far greater statement than it just being a fantastic heavy metal album.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/SpiritAdrift/

To buy the album, go here: http://store.prostheticrecords.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://prostheticrecords.com/

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