After reviewing Chained to Oblivion last year, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Spirit Adrift had plans for yet another album. Just over a year after Chained to Oblivion, here we are with Curse of Conception. This marks the second full-length release by the Arizona maestro Nate Garrett, who has recently enlisted the help of fellow Gatecreeper band mates, as well as some like-minded musical comrades to perform on the road. With a change in label to 20 Buck Spin, and a re-branding of the bands image, Spirit Adrift, in a single year transitioned from becoming a solid, up-and-coming doom band, to perhaps releasing one of the best doom albums of the year (being compared with Pallbearer and Elder releases is no easy task).
What drew me to enjoy Chained to Oblivion is not necessarily what makes Curse of Conception great. Chained to Oblivion's focus was on the depth and layers in the songs, I believe this was a necessary stepping stone to achieve what we hear now. A clear, focused heavy metal doom band that forgoes the complexity of its past layers, to embrace the well matured and established cadence of a doom act that sounds as if they have been around for ages. Not to say this new release isn't complex, because it is in its own way, but the timing, structure and themes all heavily depend on themselves to pull off an over arching tone that is rarely captured.
After the first few listens, it's amazing to hear the progress Spirit Adrift has made in just a year. There is hardly a trace of their old sound. In fact, only when intentionally trying to match the two could I find a semi-borrowed riff from the track "Marzaana" on the new track "Curse of Conception". In some cases, a band takes several years to find and focus their sound. It's refreshing to find a release from a newer, young band that knows what they want to play and turns it into reality.
The heavy metal focus, along with the doom influence, are the prominent sub genres found in their album. Along with these characteristics there are great technical parts, creative ambiance prologues, and interesting sci-fi effects that add personality to the tracks it highlights. From the soaring doom vocals on "Earthbound" and "Spectral Savior", to the technical guitar solo on "Starless Age (Enshrined)", the diversity all coherently bonds well while mixing in several aspects from multiple genres. Where in the past, the depth (or meat) of the music was found within the layered riffs and longer epic sounding track, Curse of Conception's complexity now lies within the melding of sub genre defining characteristics into tracks that make excellent sense.
While heavy metal and doom are not my most favorite of sub genres, it's hard to ignore the genius behind bands like Khemmis, Pallbearer and Windhand. I believe Curse of Conception has elevated Spirit Adrift to this level, and makes a great argument to be one of the best releases this year. I look forward to future releases, and am excited to see the evolution this bands takes given their already quick progression. I have had this album for around three months, and just keep going back to it.