Review || Spiritbox - "Eternal Blue"

  I should probably start this off with a disclaimer. Ever since I discovered Spiritbox, I've been fascinated by the ingenuity of their music and of course Courtney LaPlante's vocal prowess so I approached this release rather biased. The problem with biases of any kind is that they tend to trap you in certain boxes and while I was aware of the diversity of sounds (based on the singles), I still maintained an idea of what I wanted to hear, which I needed to shed after the first spin if I wanted to make the record justice. And trust me, "Eternal Blue" is a great example of a debut album that deserves all the hype because the band is truly delivering amazing results. Consisting of 12 tracks, it comes albeit delayed after a string of amazing singles, most of which earned a fair share of reaction videos, skyrocketing the band's views and introducing them to different audiences.

While relying on the heavy, mostly djenty guitars of Mike Stringer for the most part, the songs don't follow a technical uniformity. If anything, they borrow elements from various sources which Spiritbox mixes and matches to an almost exhausting degree and discards whatever they find useless. The result is a brilliant combination of  pounding riffage, harmonious basslines courtesy of Bill Crook (whom some of you may know from Living With Lions) and sharp drumwork, combined with layered synths, EDM passages, industrial influences, incessant tempo changes and a wonderful guest appearance by Architects' Sam Carter. LaPlante herself is in an intricate conversation with herself; she plays both the beauty to her beast, the Dr. Jekyll to her Mr. Hyde, demonic and ethereal in great execution, all while conveying a wide range of emotions in the process, completely straying from the recipe we have grown accustomed to in metal heavy music. It would have been easy to put her in the spotlight and let her overshadow the rest of the band. Thankfully, this is not the case and the melting pot that shaped "Eternal Blue" manages to keep an overall balance. 

I find very impressive how "Eternal Blue" exists within the spectrum of genre-defying metalcore sound and remains fluid, avoiding full categorization. The stark contrast in the compositions showcases the artistry of the creators, who tiptoe from catchy to aggressive to progressive to atmospheric (maybe a little too much on occasion, admittedly). Granted, not all songs weigh the same and it would be impossible to expect so. I think my biggest complaint on the album is that some of the more experimental/ambient tracks don't reach any sort of climax. I consciously refrain from using the word "stagnate", because they clearly don't, but it feels that they don't carry the same dynamic as others. In spite of that, these tracks should in no way be considered as fillers. The songwriting behind them is still technical and solid, but I think they lack a certain va va voom to make them truly stand out and therefore they feel like they miss out on potential. Another small thing I noticed is that sometimes Courtney's vocals, especially in her most fragile state, appear to be drowned in the instrumentation, not so much that it becomes problematic or unbearable, but to me it kind of takes away from the engagement. 

Overall, "Eternal Blue" is a very confident debut. Spiritbox could have been crushed by the attention and the hype if the record didn't live up to the expectations it created but they gave birth to a truly beautiful piece. Courtney LaPlante strips down to a vulnerable position and opens up about her long struggle with depression, taking the listener through the ebbs and flows of that raw emotional state without sounding sappy at any given moment. The result is poignant and delicate yet balanced, forged on undeniable craftmanship. The Canadians have undoubtedly set the foundations for a linear trajectory.


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