Spiritbox feels like one of the most hyped bands going around right now.
There has been a build up eight months long for the band’s debut album, while vocalist and mastermind Courtney LaPlante has guested with whomever will let her, all helping to push the hype machine into overdrive.
The question must be, with all this hype, can this difficult-to-nail-down musical beast be all it has been built up to be?
The album throbs to life with the electronic thud and poppy guitars of Sun Killer, sounding so much akin to the dreamiest music Lacuna Coil has released. So much so that when my junior associate within the walls of my wing here at Castle LOUD was giving it his first spin, I questioned who it was.
This dreamy pop is quickly turned on its head when Hurt You bursts forth. If the opener is the happier elements of Spiritbox’ output, then this is the anger. LaPlante’s hardcore background comes to the fore as she shows those not yet in touch with her vocal abilities or band history exactly how formidable she is as a vocalist. Musically the track ebbs and flows through some very heavy musical territory before unleashing a sugary chorus that will stick in your mind for days to come.
To finish off this opening chaotic showcase, ‘Yellowjacket’ features Sam Carter of Architects fame to add even more weight to one of the heaviest tracks on the album. Underpinned by a pulsating electronic vibe before it buries itself deep into a modern metal vibe, it keeps up the band’s early preset of not being able to be completely nailed down to any one particular style.
All of this back and forth quickly brings about the fittingly titled The Summit, really showing what the group can do to surprise and confound the more metal elite. This track is covered in sugary sweet melodies and angelic vocals layered and will be a sure fire way to pull in the listener that doesn’t yet know what they are in for. Like every track before, it flows perfectly into the next, Secret Garden with its swirling repetitive djent riff and snappy drum beat that trips over itself and more of those angelic pop vocals laying out a sugary trail to one’s demise.
Typically this kind of thing isn’t appealing to me but here it all fits together like perfect puzzle pieces laboured over to get just right. That is until the chaotic Holy Roller, that sounds like just one too many ideas crammed in for the sake of it. The electronica element all of a sudden feels out of place amongst all the other elements around it, as if this was a last minute thought, jammed into the middle of the track list in the hope it might disappear.
All is returned to normal soon enough, but the band’s knack of being unpredictable eventually grows stale, and towards the end of the album it becomes hard to focus as it passes by. Even after multiple listens I really couldn’t tell you what is happening after the title track. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t the best, more formulaic perhaps, its just there.
To answer the question I pondered in the beginning, yes, the hype might just be worth it. If Spiritbox manage to keep themselves in the musical conscious with another quickfire release, they will be a great gateway band drawing in a varied fanbase from many different areas of the heavy musical scale.
1. Sun Killer
2. Hurt You
4. The Summit
5. Secret Garden
6. Silk in the Strings
7. Holy Roller
8. Eternal Blue
9. We Live in a Strange World
11. Circle With Me