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Live Report: Spirit Adrift, Unearthly Trance & Hosianna Mantra @ Saint Vitus

Spirit Adrift founder and frontman Nate Garrett named his band while working on the first song for his debut EP, Behind Beyond.

“I had just been discharged from detox after about 15 years of self-abuse,” Garrett told me in an interview for New Noise Magazine. “So the name definitely described how I was feeling at the time.”

Remarkably, the true power of the group’s sound is its ability to connect to one’s spirit directly. While Garrett searched for a new meaning through his music, he created something with an intricate movement. A sound very much classic heavy metal, but with an ability to transcend genre, and most notably, able to uplift one’s spirit; a band with an actual meaning.

That meaning was palpable on Friday night at Saint Vitus. A vision of a band performing songs rang through one’s head like a hawk in the desert sky, swooping, angling and drifting like a dream. The group played songs off their ripping new record, Curse of Conception, and the crowd melted into a blue river of hope and transcendence.

Hosianna Mantra opened up. The project is the singular design of Joseph David Rowland, of doom bruisers Pallbearer. Rowland stepped to the stage, sitting down in full monk garb in front of his retro synthesizers. The sound was post-futuristic, heavily influenced by electronic music of the ’70s. It sunk an impression in the crowd of part house (people were moving), and part intergalactic trip, a la, Tangerine Dream.

New York City sludge masters Unearthly Trance followed. The band’s been an underground juggernaut since the year 2000. Garrett noted to the crowd that he’s been listening to them since he was 15. Their sets are typically luring and tranquil, even in the midst of a punishing doom. Friday’s set did not disappoint. The group is in many ways dependent upon creating an illusion. Don’t look at them while they play, rather, close your eyes. Here, you’ll feel the true power, as you get whirled into a unique and druggy trance of silver and chrome, very New York City, and multi-dimensional. The group pulls and flexes in a jazz sort of way, offering tiny holes of impression that one can sneak through and come out through the other side. I found myself right there for a moment, after realizing I was being helplessly hypnotized.

Spirit Adrift played to a packed house, with folk’s hearts on their sleeves. The band, which features Gatecreeper’s Chase H. Mason (Garrett also plays in Gatecreeper), Jeff Owens and Marcus Bryant, ebbs and flows like the legends of old: Maiden, Trouble, Priest. They thrash and bend with circular originality, emphasizing message and craft above all else. The songs are memorable and beautiful, and I left the show with them tattooed across my mind. This is something that is very rare in modern extreme metal: the remembrance, and care of, actual songs. I love seeing infinite extreme bands, but very few leave me with an unyielding impression. Garrett credits some non-metal legends with the ability to conjure such compositions.

“My two biggest inspirations that aren’t my grandfather and my father are Tom Petty and Waylon Jennings,” he said. “I always write the music to my songs first. Sometimes a melody or lyric will appear before I’m finished, sometimes after. Tom Petty said he would find a vocal melody, which would almost inherently contain the right lyric. As I get older, I find that’s often the case.”

Spirit Adrift created a world Friday night that people could enter and live in. The only qualm was it was too short.

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