I’ve always had a slightly contentious relationship with throwback media. When other people are happily indulging their nostalgia, I’ll often grumble that it doesn’t do much to justify its existence in the modern day. That’s not a criticism of people who enjoy that sort of media, in fact it’s a criticism of myself for being a joyless husk who takes themself far too seriously. Given this, you might make certain assumptions about how I’m approaching trad-metal, cult heroes Spirit Adrift’s new EP. If you’ve read much of my previous work however, you’ll know I’m an inconsistent mess of a person. Maybe I’ll be nice this time.
Forge Your Future is packed with a perfect blend of all the best of elements of metal from an era before my favourite subgenres coalesced. The title track’s cantering verse riff shifts smoothly into a soaring chorus, which is instantly followed by the best guitar harmonies this side of classic Iron Maiden records. Keyboards colour the music in just the right way to add depth to the sound but never distract from the guitar work. The rhythm section come together to provide enough propulsion to the song to keep things moving, even when the guitars approach the edge of self-indulgence. Vocally, the band never touch the incredibly high bar set by the likes of Halford, Dickinson and Dio, but easily vault the Osbourne hurdle. They never feel weak or strained, and they carry the excellent vocal hooks- like the chorus of Wake Up- perfectly.
While the sound is fairly consistent across the record, all three tracks being mid-paced metal anthems, there are certain bright spots that really stand out. The riff after the second chorus on Wake Up is the best Randy Rhoads riff Randy Rhoads never wrote. The breakdown on Invisible Enemy- such as it is- is a wonderful little change of pace to close out the record, but even that is a fake out as a high paced riff comes back in and the song continues. The solos are double tracked, with slight variations between each track, instantly reminding me of early Black Sabbath records- it’s a wonderful touch of authenticity and a sign of how much love Spirit Adrift really have for the classics.
It’s touches like that which really make Forge Your Future great. This clearly isn’t a group of people cynically co-opting the tropes and aesthetic of the classics for a quick buck on the nostalgia market. They really understand the depths of the music their referencing and add a slightly more modern, more technical flare to some of the riffing, and they don’t rely on poor production for free authenticity points. If early metal bands had access to today’s production technology, I don’t think many classic records would sound much different from this.
Forge Your Future is a record anyone who enjoys classic heavy metal should check out, and if you’ve yet to dive back into classic records by Priest, Maiden or Ozzy, this might be a good place to prime yourself for what you’re getting into. Sometimes it’s okay to have fun, sometimes it’s okay not to be ground breaking. You’ve just gotta be this damn good.
Forge Your Future is out 27th August 2021 Via Century Media, and can be purchased here.