Photo by Andrew Weiss
In H.P. Lovecraft’s classic story “Beyond The Wall of Sleep”, an orderly at a mental hospital becomes fascinated with a crazed backwoods redneck who seems to have an advanced inner life. Using a telepathic communicator, the orderly discovers that within his frail and unstable patient is in fact a noble being of cosmic light, who, once free of his physical body and clad in his true form, shall face a demonic star. The story was a coping mechanism for Lovecraft, whose father and mother died in the same mental hospital twenty-six years apart. Its message is clear: within even the most fragile of souls is a purity and strength that most will never see.
A similar moral seems to be at the core of Chained To Oblivion, the debut full-length by Arizona doom metal outfit Spirit Adrift. Fronting the band is Nate Garrett, who shared his harrowing tale of escaping alcoholism with us in an in-depth interview. According to Nate, the bottle stole his love of music, his creative drive, and very nearly his life. That he came out the other side is a testament to his resilience, but that he created such a massive and powerful album upon doing so speaks to the lessons he learned overcoming his crippling addiction.
Even without knowing Garrett’s story, the listener can hear a transcendence of simplicity on Chained To Oblivion. The guitars on tracks like “Psychic Tide” and “Form and Force” have their roots in the kickass wails of bands like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest but trade those bands’ candy-coated catchiness for strung-out yearning. Garrett’s vocals sound soar while remaining grounded and full of sorrow and yearning, sounding like an involuntary confession. Garrett’s lament on the title track about “failures I have left behind” and the slamming breakdown that follows will connect with your average pothead doom fan, but exude a yearning for more that will connect with anyone trying to see past their own fragility to the noble soul inside.
Listen to Spirit Adrift’s Chained to Oblivion below. The album comes out this Friday via Prosthetic Records.
Chris Krovatin is getting wyrd on Twitter.