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Album review: Spirit Adrift - Behind-Beyond

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★★★☆☆

The first EP by doom metal newcomers Spirit Adrift is certainly a solid debut.

Consisting of two songs that stretch over the course of twenty-seven minutes, Behind–Beyond is definitely an ambitious first step for a new artist.

And in numerous ways, the risks Spirit Adrift take on their first release pay off.

The songwriting of Behind–Beyond demonstrates metal at its most enjoyably melancholic, with the release’s melodic vocals providing a refreshing alteration to the harsh growls that now dominate doom music. Spirit Adrift’s manipulation of slow pace combined with crunching guitars and pounding drums guarantees an experience to satiate any metalhead.

However, unlike fellow modern and lengthy musical works like Dream Theater’s The Astonishing, Behind–Beyond sadly fails to justify the excessive length of each of its dual tracks. The opener, ‘Specter of Ruin’, clocks in at a grandiose twelve minutes yet begins to feel tired after eight; ‘Perpetual Passage’ suffers the same fate even sooner.

The issue that presents itself in Behind–Beyond is that each song refuses to change enough through its individual length to remain interesting.

Iron Maiden’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ is always the perfect reference point for this: the thirteen minute opus is considered such because of memorable verses, a continuing change of tempo every few minutes and stellar melodicism.

Due to Spirit Adrift’s firm rooting in slow-paced doom metal, the change of tempo that makes other lengthier suites continue to entertain is not present here. Even then, there is a lack of memorable riffs or vocal passages for a listener to cling to after the EP is over.

That said, Spirit Adrift definitely deserves recognition for the ambitious task it set itself on Behind–Beyond, especially for a debut release. And the EP is worthy of credit for definitely sparking my interest in the band: with a few minor changes – mostly in regard to their orchestration – Spirit Adrift could be considered pioneers of the latest generation of doom metal.

My advice to the band would be to take notes from fellow doom metallers Deathwhite. Like Spirit Adrift, Deathwhite specialises in melodic doom metal, yet the latter’s compositions are much shorter and thus, end before they run out of steam.

But regardless, Spirit Adrift do have great potential, and Behind–Beyond has piqued my interest. Already, I find myself eagerly anticipating the band’s next release.

Behind–Beyond will be available physically and digitally via Prosthetic Records on 26th February.

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