Spiritbox has been one of the largest hyped bands of the last couple of years. I have heard at least three of the singles before and will be the first to admit while I like them, I don’t quite get the sheer level of hype surrounding them. Hopefully, that is all going to change today as they have finally put out their debut album. Let’s waste no more time, here is ‘Eternal Blue’.
Starting on a brand-new track, ‘Sun Killer’, the album opens on some fairly atmospheric, eerie electronic sounds. It then kicks in with a heavy-sounding drumbeat as Courtney LaPlante’s powerful clean vocals come in over the top of it all. It definitely sounds good so far, her vocals working so well over the building backing music. The guitars come in for the second verse, hitting huge, low chords to the beat of the drums. The guitars bulk out the second chorus too, making it feel bigger and a little catchier than the first one. It still doesn’t feel like something worthy of the hype yet though, especially not as an opener. Everything drops out, leaving Courtney whispering a vocal line over and over in an odd time signature to the beat behind her. The low vocal behind her adds a perfect creepy tone to it all, raising and lowering in the mix seemingly at will. As expected, it explodes into a HUGE heavy version of the part, the guitars coming in with a great riff while Courtney’s vocals get harsh and screamed, adding to the heaviness. It sounds awesome, but my only issue is that it means the second half of the song is all practically just one line repeated over and over. It was good, and they did a good job to try and keep it interesting, but it did get a tad repetitive.
Next up is the most recent single, ‘Hurt You’. It opens on an electro-remix of some of her vocals, a HEAVY guitar riff coming in behind it. It drops down to just drums again for the verse but stays heavy as we get more screams from Courtney. The vocals clean up for another slightly catchy chorus, the instrumentation doing a good job of keeping it heavy. I think that has been my main issue with the band so far with their singles though, they have all been pretty decent and entertaining, but if they cannot write an entertaining melody they will never go as far as average for me. It’s not a bad chorus at all, but I wouldn’t say it’s exactly catchy or fun, just there to have a chorus for a more radio-friendly song. We do get a great build into a breakdown though, simple but massively effective, especially with more screams and electronic stuff over the top of the crazy low guitar and bass. It then leads into a final chorus to take us home. Another good if a little disappointing song.
The previous track does seamlessly flow into the next one ‘Yellowjacket’ which I always love. This one opens on an almost Nine Inch Nails-esque industrial beat, Courtney’s vocals fitting perfectly over the top. Her scream heralds a fantastic, heavy guitar riff, the best of the album so far. The verse is pretty average but the riff, with the huge screams from Courtney, acts as a great chorus. Sam Carter guests for the second verse, adding his own great hardcore-style scream to the mix. It builds pretty well again after the second chorus into another fantastic breakdown, even heavier than the one before. They have definitely been the highlights of the album so far. We then get a final chorus to end things. This was the best song on the album so far, in my opinion, and it may even make the playlist, who knows…
‘The Summit’ is another slower, poppier open, clean vocals and a clean guitar chord progression over some basic drums. It has a very Jinjer feel to it so far. Surprisingly though it stays clean and pretty light (for Spiritbox), through the chorus too, almost making it a ballad. It’s damn enjoyable, almost having a heavy pop feel to it all. I’d be down with the band doing this most of the time, outside of the heavy breakdowns and riffs every now and again. There are a couple of screams in this but they are used as harmonies behind the main vocal, adding some great layers to it all and keeping it still pretty heavy. It was another damn good song, two in a row now!
Another single, ‘Secret Garden’, dives right into it with a pretty good guitar riff and more clean vocals. The verse lasts for quite a while, evolving into a pretty great, funky bassline halfway through. It then explodes into a huge, open chorus, pretty catchy vocals over the top of big chords and drums. It’s a good chorus, but still nothing amazing to my ears. A heavy riff comes in after the second chorus but outside of that the song again stays relatively light, another ballad of sorts from a rather heavy band. This was enjoyable, and made the playlist back when it was first released!
‘Silk in the Strings’ immediately brings the heavy back, Courtney’s incredible scream coming over the top of an AWESOME bending guitar riff. Her lows are so damn impressive, and a wish she went for them more than the higher hardcore screams. She gets plenty of time to show it off in this song though, making it maybe the heaviest song on the album. It was so heavy, in fact, that I stopped needing a decent melody and just appreciated the heaviness of it all. It was fantastic, having me headbanging and my face creasing up throughout. If you’re going to do heavy instead of melody, do it like this instead of half-arsing both. A great song.
The band’s biggest song (and it’s not hard to see why), ‘Holy Roller’, is up next. Not only is heavy as anything, but the Midsomer-inspired video for it makes it even more so. The opening is surprisingly heavy and Courtney again shows off a lot of range in her harsher vocals, hitting both crazy lows and powerful higher ones. Again, outside of the robotic voice, it isn’t particularly catchy, but it is so heavy and brutal that it doesn’t matter, it’s still very enjoyable. I believe this already made the 2020 playlist too when it came out, and it’s easy to see why.
The album’s title track is another slower one. It’s not bad, but I wouldn’t say it’s as good as The Summit or Secret Garden. The exact same could be said for the following track, ‘We Live in Strange World’. Both are pretty okay tracks, but when compared to other slower tracks on the album they don’t quite measure up. At least ‘Eternal Blue’ had a fun breakdown again in the middle! The last album track, ‘Halcyon’, made me think it was getting back to the heaviness with a great riff. Unfortunately, it drops back down for a clean verse and chorus, but at least the riff was good. It has some screams by the end but it’s again to accent the cleans more than add heaviness. At least the outro was heavy AF, making up for it all a little more! It’s the best part of the song by far. All three songs I could take or leave, feeling a little like filler on an otherwise stacked album.
‘Circle With Me’ was my favourite of the singles before the album came out, and I think I still maintain that as a fact after listening to them all again. It perfectly encapsulates what the band is about, the heaviness of the opening scream and riff, the slower verse, and the VERY catchy chorus. This is the one song for me that actually makes me understand the hype behind the band a little more. Well, this and ‘Holy Roller’. Both tracks signal big things for the band in the future if they continue along this same sort of trend and refine their sound.
By comparison, ‘Constance’ feels a little too slow and subdued to close out such a powerful album. It may just be my issue with bands closing albums on whimpers as opposed to bangs, but I’m sick of the modern trend of the ballad closing the album. Don’t get me wrong, this has a pretty hard breakdown and a couple of screams towards the end, but it still fades out with piano in its last few seconds. It’s not a bad song, just the wrong choice to end the album on.
Overall: I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. There are a few album tracks here that are way better than most of the singles, like Yellowjacket and The Summit, but there were a couple of duds for me too. I’ll still happily be listening to this again a bunch and am excited to hear what they bring out in the future!