Exclusive: Spirit Adrift Breathes Light Into The Darkness On Their New Album
Since 2015, Nate Garrett has been at the helm of the traditional heavy metal force, Spirit Adrift, and a member of the death metal quintet, Gatecreeper. The former has been a conduit for his own catharsis—a means for a release of the emotions surrounding his past vices, views of the present society, and his own personal growth. His passion project continues to evolve — turning from Sabbathian doom to outright arena-filling heavy metal. Consequently, it has put Spirit Adrift at the crest of a wave of nostalgic metal that has swelled in the past couple years — his newest album, Divided By Darkness, is the crescendo.
“There are forces that want to divide and conquer the population. Divided By Darkness is about a lot of different things, but the main subject I’m trying to dissect is a problem that keeps arising throughout history—we allow ourselves to be driven by hatred and fear,” he says over the phone. “We get confused about who the enemy is. We’re fighting each other when we should be bringing back the guillotine.”
“I don’t know if it’s a global issue, but the 24-hour, constant influx of information exacerbates this human condition. I think it’s an issue that’s been around as long as humanity has been around. Divided by Darkness is addressing the way it is currently manifesting,” Nate continues. “It’s this problem that humans face where we allow ourselves to be driven by the darker parts of our personalities and the negative aspects of our minds.”
Personal growth, like many things, doesn’t progress linearly. It is often challenged by internal and external factors people are subjected to. Nate is no different, yet he uses that strife to drive his music, especially his latest album — a high-flying heavy metal juggernaut — Divided By Darkness.
Between Nate’s constant competition with himself and his consternation from the world’s current state of affairs, writing the record pushed Nate to the limits of his being. “The process for Divided by Darkness was not fun — at all,” Nate admits. “It was brutal emotionally and physically and I think there was some pressure to outdo Curse of Conception. I knew that if I could become the absolute best version of myself as a writer, guitar player, singer, and person — physically, mentally, spiritually — if I could just put as much suffering and work and obsession into it as humanly possible and become the best version of myself then it would be better than the last album.”
Ultimately, the pressure makes for a diamond of a record. Divided By Darkness is not only Spirit Adrift’s greatest output, but one of the most electrifying and anthemic records of this decade. Across eight tracks, Spirit Adrift tackles the darkest areas of society today with a newly-honed and searing vocal delivery as well as a multi-layered instrumental approach featuring blistering guitar solos and vibrant, nostalgic synthesizers.
Nate has been very open in the past about his former vices with alcohol. He spent his younger years with bottles of whiskey and grappling with other violent destructive behaviors. Those all went away four years ago when he moved to Arizona and started Spirit Adrift. With every album, he takes more steps to improve his life.
This time around, Nate ramped up his exercise routines—incorporating more cardiovascular training when he wasn’t in the gym. He also quit smoking, improved his lung capacity, and made resolutions for his guitar playing and singing. He spent countless hours training his voice with vocal warmups and singing with videos some of his favorite musicians, Ozzy Osbourne and George Jones. He specifically worked to bolster his guitar soloing as well.
“I go through these really hyper-obsessed phases where I just listen to the same album or two for months. I was listening to the first two Ozzy albums, singing along to those, and watching footage,” Nate describes. “The Ozzy obsession broke and I suddenly became obsessed with George Jones. I started singing along to a lot of his lines.”
“The thing about Jones is he would never sing a song the same way twice,” Nate continues. “He was notorious for that. [Ronnie James] Dio would do some pretty extraordinary runs with a lot of notes—George Jones was on a whole other level. He was packing 15 notes into a space that should only allow for three or four.” Nate soon realized that if he could sing along to George Jones, singing heavy metal was easy. His voice—sharp and exacting—delivers pinpoint commentary of the problems facing individuals on a daily basis.
“Most human beings go through the same shit. The specifics and circumstances may be different, but there are broader issues humans as individuals and humanity as a whole have struggled with,” Nate says. Songs like We Will Not Die and Angel & Abyss wear this idea a bit more on the sleeve. While other tracks like Hear Her and Living Light veil Nate’s sentiments in a touch of mysticism.
The commentary is almost amplified when digging into the compositions. Angel & Abyss turns from Master of Puppets to Blizzard of Oz at the drop of a hat. It even has a similar Ozzy laugh that is equal parts A National Acrobat and black metal band, Malokarpatan as Nate explained. Living Light features prominent choral voices from Kayla Dixon of Witch Mountain.
He points out that he focusing a portion of his rage to the fact that much of culture at large is run by a system of toxic patriarchy. “I wanted more feminine energy on this album because, even though it’s more pissed off than the last album, part of the reason I’m so pissed off is because of a toxic patriarchy that has ruined the planet. I wanted there to be more females involved in this album. Kayla was incredible and Lillian Aguinaga did a massive cosmic hummingbird painting that is on the insert,” he says.
“All this negativity is at a fever pitch right now. Instead of fighting with each other we need to start dragging people out of their mansions and lighting them on fire in the street,” he continues. Ultimately for him and Spirit Adrift, Divided By Darkness breathes some light into the overwhelming darkness that pervades much of humanity’s daily life. Through arena-filling riffs and a soaring voice, he unleashes his most stunning performance as Spirit Adrift — a message to personal and societal empowerment in the face of mounting adversity.
Divided By Darkness is out tomorrow via 20 Buck Spin, but you can listen to the whole thing now, exclusively on Kerrang!
You can also preorder the album.
See Spirit Adrift on tour:
18 Rebel Lounge – Phoenix, AZ *
19 Brick By Brick – San Diego, CA *
21 The Echo – Los Angeles, CA *
22 Elbo Room Jack London – Oakland, CA *
24 Mississippi Studios – Portland, OR
25 Modified Ghost Festival – Vancouver, BC
27 Starlite Room Temple – Edmonton, AB ^
28 The Palomino – Calgary, AB
30 Northwest Terror Fest – Seattle, WA
31 Neurolux – Boise, ID
1 Kilby Court – Salt Lake City, UT
2 Lost Lake – Denver, CO
4 Sleeping Village – Chicago, IL
5 Deluxx Fluxx – Detroit, MI
6 Sneaky Dee’s – Toronto, ON
7 Turbohaus – Montréal, QC
8 Great Scott – Boston, MA #
11 Saint Vitus Bar – Brooklyn, NY #
12 Monty Hall – Jersey City, NJ #
13 Songbyrd – Washington, DC #
14 Boot & Saddle – Philadelphia, PA #
15 The Camel – Richmond, VA #
16 Kings – Raleigh, NC #
18 The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA #
19 Spanish Moon – Baton Rouge, LA #
21 Hotel Vegas – Austin, TX #
22 Ridglea Room – Ft. Worth, TX #
* w/ Haunt
# w/ High Command
^ w/ Dopethrone
The Grand Canyon State is so hot that it’s impossible to NOT be metal there.
Zao will be on the road in August with Hollow Earth and Wolf King.