I was pleased to see I had captured my initial impression of Spirit Adrift’s new album recently:

I was excited for Spirit Adrift’s new album today but had no idea it would be this good. Curse of Conception sets too high a bar, in much the same way Khemmis’s Hunted does. But I’m on the last track, “The Way of Return,” and am smitten. He is so good. The nod to Pink Floyd at the end is tasty.

I finally got to see them live last night at a tiny bar in Boston. I had tickets last year but could not get off of work. I was disappointed because, as I get older, I am becoming acutely aware of how little time is left and how much great music there is to experience.

The acoustics were surprisingly good. For such a small venue they had nice house equipment and a talented audio engineer. While this is the only nice thing about the physical space, it was enough.

The band was amazing. I’m really starting to appreciate how heavy doom metal can be live, which is stupidly something I already know. To be fair, Nate Garrett’s opening words were (loosely) “We’re Spirit Adrift and we’re a heavy metal band”. But there is no mistaking the musical foundation and sensibilities: this is neither death nor speed, rather, beautiful doom in the manner of bands like Katatonia, Khemmis and Pallbearer. However, unlike them, his songwriting is powerful in part because it is straight-ahead. This is not to say it is simplistic, rather, there is a clear foundation upon which the musicians expand throughout each song. Instead of relying too much on tempo changes or odd time signatures, as is the fault of too many prog bands, they embrace nuance. That which must be sacrificed to speed is allowed to flourish, in such a way that, when the speed comes, it feels as fast as bands twice that. The grooves are huge and blend well with his voice, something that took me a while to really appreciate. It is rare to find that a vocalist sounds better live than he does recorded, but this is true not only of Garrett but the band as a whole. There is a presence only partially captured in their recordings: they fill the stage in a way that feels complete.

They are also consummate musicians. Their playing was tight and responsive, which, as most people never realize, is harder to do than doing so fast. His guitar work is simply gorgeous. I’m on record as preferring this style of soloing over shredding, so I won’t try to defend it. Those who love David Gilmour will simply understand.

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