Every great band has their tipping point. For post-metalcore trio Spiritbox, it was the release of their 2020 single, Holy Roller. Before that, the Canadians were a promising new noise and had gathered a cult following with their self-titled 2017 EP and subsequent run of excellent singles. But afterwards, and millions of streams later, the band were the name on the lips of heavy music fans and tastemakers across the internet. As a result, it’s difficult to remember a debut record in recent years that’s landed with as much hype and anticipation as Eternal Blue.
Vocalist Courtney LaPlante and guitarist Michael Stringer broke up their last band, metalcore mutineers iwrestledabearonce, to form an outlet that would allow them the creative fluidity they craved. Eternal Blue is driven by that steadfast refusal to submit to genre boundaries, combining brutal, progressive metal with hooks and huge, ethereal swathes of melody to create lush and intricate soundscapes. Of course, Spiritbox aren’t the first band to exploit the sweet spot between beauty and brutality, but these songs feel fresh, bolstered by emotional heft that hits right in the guts.
Opener Sun Killer sets the tone. Courtney’s haunting vocal floats amid industrial-tinged beats and atmospheric electronics before exploding into a monstrous Tesseract-esque pile-on. Hurt You veers between a chorus Holding Absence would bellow from the rooftops and a mid-section where Courtney cements herself as one of the best vocalists in our scene today, pulling a vocal volte-face so pulverising, it leaves your knees weak.
That push and pull is at the core of the record, ensuring it never falls into repose. A highlight comes early as industrial glitches usher in huge, juddering tech grooves on Yellowjacket, before Architects’ Sam Carter turns up to strike euphoric gold on the chorus. The aforementioned metalcore banger, Holy Roller – the song that punted the band up into the big leagues – still packs a punch. But when nestled between the Code Orange-isms of Silk In The Strings and the devastatingly gorgeous album title track, its straight-up metalcore anthemia almost (almost) comes off as one-note.
Spiritbox’s true power is their ability to resonate emotionally. That vulnerability is laid bare in the mellow flow of The Summit, and on Secret Garden and Circle With Me, both of which burst into cacophonous walls of sound. They’re so lush and dense, they’re almost holographic in their effect, exploding in a shock of vivid purples, reds and greens. But if there’s one song that sums up what Spiritbox are all about, it’s towering closer Constance – a beautiful mediation on the cruelty of dementia that has spawned its own tearful reaction series on Youtube. As waves of sound compress and crash and deafening guitars lead into the track’s serene end, fear, frustration and longing spill and bleed into each other, leaving behind an impression that will continue to burn for a long time to come. Eternal Blue is a staggeringly brilliant record that resoundingly delivers on the hype.
Eternal Blue is released on September 17 via Rise Records