Stepping down from their position in quirky and arguably avant-garde metalcore outfit iwrestledabearonce, who notably toned down on their obscurities and refined themselves with 2015’s ‘Hail Mary’, vocalist Courtney LaPlante and guitarist Mike Stringer have got themselves hitched in more ways than one, in both a marriage and unveiling their own project together: Spiritbox.
Deriving their name from equipment that tracks paranormal activity (you might know it better as a ‘ghost box’), there’s certainly some dark aura that ebbs and weaves throughout the duo’s self-titled debut EP. Infact, you might here samples of some audio emitted by a spiritbox/ghost box in the backdrop of the 7 tracks showcased here.
Indeed, there’s a somewhat dark and unsettling weirdness creeping around here that’s hard to put your finger on, and that’s one of the EP’s greatest strengths. Gone completely is the goofball reputation that the two acquired by enlisting themselves in the iwrestledabearonce formation, and here they truly flex their muscles and credibility as musicians and songwriters.
A clunky bass line leads us into opener ‘The Mara Effect, Pt. 1’ before some solemn guitar plucks enter the frame, and LaPlante‘s haunting voice coaxes and invites us in. Suddenly, Stringer brings a crushing line of chords, sealing us into the EP, and we don’t want to leave.
LaPlante‘s vocals are at a career best. Her cleans are a far bigger focus than they’ve been before, and they entangle you into the dizzying grooves of the guitars and the sometimes punishing drum work that surrounds it. ‘The Mara Effect, Pt. 3’ is a definite worthy candidate to put forward for her progression as a singer.
The EP isn’t void of her harrowing, commanding, and – at times – jarring screams though. Cataclysmic closer ‘The Beauty Of Suffering’, with its bouncy and groovy riff work, kicks us right in the gonads whilst LaPlante roars in our faces, before later comforting us by relating with her own distress and suffering, saying “I gave my heart in pieces / Please, release me / I’m tired / Don’t try to pacify me / Please, release me / I’m tired.”
With ‘Spiritbox’, it’s like we’ve communicated with the spirits, they’ve pulled us into their realm, and then chucked us into purgatory for a little while. We’re tormented by the tortured souls, and their tales of horror, macabre, and lament before we’re scooped up and cradled into a fortitude of sanctuary back into reality, and at that point, we just want to do it all over again. That’s it; Spiritbox is what purgatory would sound like if it was a band.
LaPlante and Stringer have really pulled it out of the box (yep, I went there) here. If you’re into grooves that tread the territory of djent, and have an equal love for the heavy as you do hooks, then Spiritbox should be on your radar immediately.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)