Spirit Adrift – Ghost At The Gallows
Release Date: 18/08/2023
Running Time: 46:11
Review by Rory Bentley
Nate Garrett is a man who loves Heavy Metal, steeped in the lore of the genre from the biggest anthems to the deepest cuts, and pure steel runs through his veins. Over the course of four, now five Spirit Adrift albums he has dragged Trad Metal and Hard Rock kicking and screaming into the modern age, revitalising a classic sound, and beefing it up with the production and crushing guitar tone Metalheads expect from a band in 2023. Where the likes of Eternal Champion have admirably set about channelling the 80s, Spirit Adrift have a crossover appeal and approach that is just as likely to pull in Doom and Hardcore fans as it is the denim and leather mob. 2020’s excellent “Enlightened In Eternity” represented a huge leap in terms of songwriting and solidifying the band’s sound. Now after an excellent EP and covers album, can the band kick on with album number five?
Initially I was a little hesitant to respond in the affirmative to this question. My first few spins of “Ghost At The Gallows” left me more impressed than moved. The two epics that bookend the record immediately stood out to me as huge highlights (more on them later), but I was hoping for some instant hits like ‘Ride Into The Light’ and ‘Screaming From Beyond’ ala “Enlightened In Eternity”. Having spent a bit more time with it though, it is quite clear that I was talking out my arse and there’s plenty of bangers on here. In fact, it is the sheer number of ideas and killer riffs and licks on this thing that made it hard to pick out highlights. There is zero filler on here to contrast with and highlight the killer cuts-it all absolutely slap!
You need to have some front on you to call your song ‘Barn Burner’ but my word is that ever an appropriate title for this song! Thunderstruck-style licks and stink-face inducing riffs collide with a huge chorus with Garrett on commanding vocal form. The bridge riff in this thing is also Iommi levels of nasty and groovy, to the point where I’m expecting Ozzie to shout,“Alright Now!”, but instead I have to do it myself on the bus to work and look absolutely mental to a throng of horrified commuters.
Then, from wading through tar to breaking the speed limit, ‘Hanged Man’s Revenge’ brings a raucous thrashing intensity to the table with another massive vocal hook and some skin-peeling shredding from Garrett and ex-Carcass axe-slinger Tom Draper. This would all be more than enough, but the outro section has a muscular Doom freak out that sounds like Electric Wizard channelling Dio. Utter filth! Thematically things tend to veer between sombre reflection and balls out defiance. Heavy Metal is often rightly branded a silly genre when it comes to lyrics, but it can also be very powerful and stirring. My goal with my old band was to channel real life pain and problems through the triumphant, bombastic language of Metal, and Spirit Adrift do this better than I ever could. It is possible for something to be fun and a little silly as well as moving and motivating, people are not just one thing so why should music be? The double header of ‘Death Won’t Stop Me’ and ‘I Shall Return’ are the perfect embodiment of this sentiment. Both give you the option to bang your head and crack a beer if that’s all you want to take from them, but they are also a great pick me up when life, love and loss have got you backed into a corner and you need something to fire you up or just vent your spleen.
Those of you hankering for the more epic qualities of the band will be more than satisfied with the aforementioned stunning bookends of ‘Give Her To The River’ and the closing title track. The former stakes a hefty claim as the band’s finest song to date, matching the rousing guitarmonies, filthy chugging riffs and sprawling Prog that made 2019’s “Divided By Darkness” a shoe-in for my end of year top 20 with Garrett’s now more refined command of huge choruses and sharp, tight song craft. It’s so fucking good that I think it was a big part of me taking longer to appreciate the tracks that followed. Meanwhile ‘Ghost At The Gallows’ is that rare closing track that somehow lifts the energy levels of the record in its dying embers. Beginning with powerful, purposeful and stomping Black Album style riffs it is the perfect follow up to the more melancholy (and also fucking excellent) ‘Siren Of The South’. Tremolo harmonies, monster vocals and swaggering drums make up the first half, with the second half giving way to elegant acoustic passages replete with bluesy licks and smoky crooned vocals and a guitar hero outro that should really only be played at the top of a mountain.
Once again the Spirit Adrift train keeps rolling and produces yet another life-affirming slice of glorious Heavy Fucking Metal which somehow surpasses previous efforts. “Ghost At The Gallows” has entered the golden halls of classic Metal, sword covered in blood, goblet in hand ready to take its seat at the head of the table in 2023. Hail!
Spirit Adrift- Barn Burner OFFICIAL VIDEO
01. Give Her To The River
02. Barn Burner
03. Hanged Man’s Revenge
04. These Two Hands
05. Death Won’t Stop Me
06. I Shall Return
07. Siren Of The South
08. Ghost At The Gallows
Nate Garrett- Guitar/Vocals
Tom Draper- Guitar
Sonny DeCarlo- Bass
Michael Arellano- Drums
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