Doom metal generally deals with matters of loss, finality and desperation, which may be why Arizona crew Spirit Adrift stand out so powerfully from the slow-motion throng. A one-man project initiated by multi-instrumentalist Nate Garrett, the band’s debut album, Chained To Oblivion, seems to exist in its own self-contained musical universe, where the lumbering thud of Sabbath collides with the sublime, harmonised euphoria of Lizzy and Maiden and a near-chewable sense of spiritual euphoria. It’s a record made even more remarkable by the fact that Nate played every instrument, sang lead vocals and produced the whole thing, too.
“I was raised to excel at everything. My grandmother put me in piano lessons when I was three years old!” he laughs. “My grandparents always told me to do the best I can, but before this band I’d lost sight of those values, so part of this was about getting back to that. I wanted to make the absolute best record I could. But it’s just funny how the universe works. It’s already got a lot of positivity and attention, which I’ve never experienced before, and I think that’s because it was just pure. I had no other intentions.”
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Nate learned his doomy trade back in his home state of Arkansas, surrounded by likeminded slaves to the riff like Rwake and Pallbearer. But the downside of growing up in the Bible Belt is that spiritual freedom and liberated creativity are not exactly encouraged by religious folk. As a result, Spirit Adrift is very much an exercise in catharsis.
“Being raised in the South, I was encouraged to raise questions in regular school but I was strongly discouraged from asking questions at church,” he recalls. “That never made any sense to me and a lot of people down there are very vindictive. But I have several vehicles in my life that have helped me address the deep-seated resentment and fear and lack of faith, and this band is definitely one of them. The goal has now become to reach as many people as I can. There are ways of dealing with the ugliness and pain of life without letting it consume you.”
Spirit Adrift have now blossomed into a full-blown live act, featuring some of Nate’s peers from the Arizona metal underground. With a slot at Roadburn 2017 already booked, Nate’s vision is sprouting wings and heading our way. Praise be.
“What I basically did was pick all my favourite musicians that are based in Phoenix,” Nate grins. “They’re three guys that I have the utmost respect for. There’s a lot of love, respect and mutual admiration in this band right now. I’m blown away that they’re all excited by it. I’m excited too!”