In 2020, when Spiritbox released their breakthrough single – nu tech rager Holy Roller – they unleashed a tsunami of hype that only built with subsequent singles. By the time their first album, Eternal Blue – a stunning blend of colossal tech metal, hulking grooves and waves of ethereal melody – landed a year later, the Vancouver Island trio had become one of the most talked-about bands in our world.
Eternal Blue was such a fully formed statement of intent that last year’s threetrack EP, Rotoscope, felt like a rug being pulled from under your feet. Combining industrial vibes, nu metal drops and playful, Garbage-esque cyberpunk, it was a declaration that Spiritbox were a band who could evolve in any number of different directions.
The Fear Of Fear doesn’t contain such extreme left turns. Rather, these six tracks feel like a natural continuation of Eternal Blue, albeit one that’s bigger and sharper as it explores the extremes of their sound.
Nightmarish opening track Cellar Door is one of their heaviest outings yet. Juddering to life over panicked glitches and a whiff of Korn’s sinister guitar, what follows is basically a series of sledgehammer breakdowns, stitched together like some sort of malevolent toy.
Tunnelling through an equally claustrophobic crawlspace, the monstrous Angel Eyes puts the contributions of new bassist Josh Gilbert (formerly of As I Lay Dying) front and centre, while cold, mechanical textures coupled with Courtney LaPlante’s harsh, skin-on-fire vocals take it to an intestine-wobbling, Meshuggah-adjacent dimension.
Of course, everybody already knows that Spiritbox have more in their toolkit than rabid aggression. Too Close / Too Late positively floats on a surge of shimmering sound: proof of just how easily this band can chuck out a gorgeous chorus. Upbeat single The Void, with its skittering drums and spiralling guitars, is the most commercially minded song Spiritbox have put forward yet.
It leads the EP to a jumping-off point where closer Ultraviolet takes things up a notch further, as Courtney’s voice rides a tide of electronic, almost dancey beats. Each of these three tracks offer tantalising suggestions as to where Spiritbox could go next. It’s the recent single Jaded, which zigzags between Architects’ techier inclinations and a waterfall of emotional heft, that most feels like it could have sat comfortably on Eternal Blue.
Commenting on the band’s sound earlier this year, Courtney declared, “We’re still figuring out what we are, and I don’t even know if I want to find out.” That sense of disregard for genre boundaries is littered throughout The Fear Of Fear. Spiritbox could have easily capitalised on their momentum by rushing out Eternal Blue v2, but instead, this is the sound of a band deciding where they want to go, unaffected by the weight of expectation, and taking us along for the ride. We can’t wait to see what happens.
The Fear Of Fear is out now via Pale Chord