Release Date: September 17, 2021 Genre: Progressive Metal, Post-Metal, Metalcore Label: BMG Canada / Rise Records
The Vancouver Island, British Columbia, progressive metal/metalcore trio Spiritbox will release their long-awaited and much-anticipated debut album, Eternal Blue, on September 17th. The trio consists of vocalist Courtney LaPlante, guitarist Michael Stringer, and bassist Bill Crook, with the drums currently performed by Zev Rose -the band's touring/studio drummer. With Eternal Blue -as well as their self-titled EP and their Singles Collection EP- the trio wants to form a connection to themselves, their current fanbase, and future listeners. They did, and still do not want any "hype" the band has garnered since their debut into the metal scene in 2016 to dictate their twelve brand new songs. Additionally, Spiritbox did not aim to hold these songs back for so long, but the pandemic put a damper on getting their debut album tracked for release. However, the band cites the pandemic as help in making these songs grow stronger with time. Furthermore, Eternal Blue was produced by Daniel Braunstein (Silent Planet, Dayseeker, Hurtwave).
A major thing worth mentioning right off the bat is not one single song on Eternal Blue sounds the same or uses the same structure. Spiritbox's debut begins with the album-opening track, "Sun Killer." The song is without a doubt enthralling and pulls your full attention into the music. The song starts with atmospheric electronic sounds before Crook's bass and Rose's drums roll into the picture. As the track builds further, LaPlante comes in with her powerful clean vocals, and raucous heavy, down-tuned guitars take hold of the sound. Nearing the track's end, those atmospheric sounds return -something that defines this entire record- before the massive, incredible earth rattling breakdown. "Hurt You," one of the many singles off Eternal Blue, follows "Sun Killer." "Hurt You" was written shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic in the early months of 2020 during a major snowstorm in Vancouver. While the band was stuck inside, the song just flowed out quickly. "Hurt You" is wholly heavy, but its clean sung chorus is immensely intoxicating. The track tackles toxic codependency and the feeling of knowing that something is doomed to fail, but make the choice to go down with the sinking ship either way.
The album's lone feature is on the following track, "Yellowjacket." Once again pulling out the recurring atmospheric progressive metal, "Yellowjacket" sees Sam Carter, the frontman of the British metalcore band Architects, lend his incredible talent to Spiritbox's debut album. The track is chock full of experimentation -yet another album-defining feature- with the use of vocal effects and guitar sounds. Which leads the trio to endless possibilities with their songwriting and sound, presently and in the future. Both LaPlante's and Carter's vocals smash together for such a drastic shift on the album on the proggy metalcore number. "Secret Garden" is one of the album's more "subtle" tracks. With plenty of bold guitar riffs and electronic instruments, the track features one of the most infectious choruses on the entire album that focuses on a bit of a more poppy side of the band and blends it with progressive rock. The heaviest of the album's tracks come in tracks six and seven -"Silk In The Strings" and "Holy Roller." "Silk In The Strings," all eyes are on Stringer. The guitar work on this track is something out of this world. Notably, the fast and hard guitar string bends bring something entirely new to the album. This ferocious number is the first track on the tracklist to feature screaming vocals from LaPlante from start to finish. "Holy Roller" tackles religion and faith and follows the same formula musically but incorporates more drum and bass-style beats throughout and heavy use of vocal effects during the choruses. LaPlante's vocals on "Holy Roller" are also at their most vicious. Those guttural growls are a magnificent change. The band's intent for writing "Holy Roller" was to experiment and try to create something crazy and heavy, something they certainly achieved. Additionally, while not featured on the album, the band released a remixed version of "Holy Roller" a few months back featuring Crystal Lake frontman Ryo Kinoshita.
Lyrically, "We Live In A Strange World" feels like a mid-pandemic written number and musically, it's the album's biggest swerve. 75% atmospheric pop and 25% progressive metal, the track blows a new breath into an album that absolutely didn't need it. However, "We Live In A Strange World" is still spontaneous, powerful, and fits the tone of the entire album and what Spiritbox stands for with their songwriting exploration. It shows the band is not afraid of delving into unknown waters and that anything is possible from the trio, leaving you with a longing need to know "what's next?" "Halcyon" is another heavy number, but primarily another pop-infused progressive metal track. LaPlante's vocal performance on both "We Live In A Strange World" and "Halcyon" showcase her clean vocal diversity with ease. The album's final two tracks, "Circle With Me" and "Constance," are the perfect closers to Spiritbox's debut record. Lyrically, "Circle With Me" captures the spectrum of emotions LaPlante was feeling about her music at the time of its writing. From the anxiety, she feels about messing up to the confidence meant to protect her from her self-doubt. Musically, "Circle With Me" still captures the emotions she puts into the lyrics, and it puts attention on LaPlante's entire vocal range from her powerful cleans, to her mid-range screams, to those guttural lows she all hits flawlessly. "Constance" is the most heartfelt, powerful, and emotionally driven track on the entirety of Eternal Blue. While the track is slower, it's minimal until the eruption at the track's end, but it's endlessly harrowing. It's about losing somebody you love before you have even lost them. Written over the Summer of 2020 after LaPlante's grandmother sadly passed away and wasn't able to say goodbye because of the pandemic's travel restrictions. The band also released an acoustic rendition of "Constance" that can be streamed on all major music streaming platforms. With Eternal Blue, Spiritbox proves they're a band to watch. LaPlante, Stringer, and Crook have written their most ambitious effort today in these twelve tracks. The band has managed to push all expectations aside to write a genre-fluid record that excellently pulls from several different genres and tons of influences to create one of the most unique metal records I've heard in some time. As aforementioned, the hope the band have for this record is connection. They aim to have Eternal Blue latch onto the hearts and minds of those that listen to this extraordinary album, as it did to the band's three members when writing and recording it. Regarding the band's major success over the last five years, the band has no intention to take over the globe. However, Eternal Blue is an unquestionably eye-catching record, and Spiritbox is sure to become a household name and have a smash hit with Eternal Blue.