Spirit Adrift – Ghost At The Gallows (Century Media)

Spirit Adrift have come a long way since Nate Garrett’s early forays into doom.

Yes, their debut, Chained To Oblivion, turned heads, and 2017’s Curse Of Conception garnered acclaim from Sabbath-worshippers.

But it was on 2020’s Enlightened In Eternity that multi-instrumentalist Garrett and drummer Marcus Bryant got into their classic metal stride… and cemented their place in the burgeoning NWOTHM scene.

Steel armoured battle hymns like Ride Into The Light and Cosmic Conquest shook with the bombast of Mercyful Fate and Maiden, yet that low slung, infectious groove remained.

It was a thrilling combination.

Ghost At The Gallows, therefore, had a lot to live up to.

Spirit Adrift strike gold again…

Spirit Adrift’s fifth full length was born with splinters of grief in its heart, and under the blackened sky of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Garrett had lost family members and buddies.

Contemporaries such as Power Trip’s Riley Gale and The Black Dahlia Murder’s Trevor Strnad tragically passed on.

Garret, now based in Texas, admits that his friends’ mental health challenges made their mark on the Ghost At The Gallows. There’s certainly a melancholic edge to the majestic title track, which is reminiscent of Crowbar or Pantera’s more contemplative moments. Ditto Siren Of The South, which is graced by one of the frontman’s finest vocal performances.

However, the record also screams defiance… and revels in the ecstasy of 100% pure heavy metal.

Opener Give Her To The River demonstrates Garrett’s abilities as a master riffsmith. The leadwork is just as scintillating.

Death Won’t Stop Me rocks to the Valhalla-shaking stomp of Grand Magus, but glistens in the baking Texan sun.

Barn Burner hints at what could have been if Pepper Keenan had teamed up with Hetfield and co.

And Hanged Man’s Revenge? It’s like Judas Priest and Down facing off in a dusty, abandoned town, and then charging at each other, all guns blazing.

Given that Spirit Adrift covered Metallica, Thin Lizzy, Lynyrd Skynrd and ZZ Top on last year’s 20 Centuries Gone EP, it’s really no surprise that Ghost At The Gallows sounds like it does. There’s heavy boogie and chugging, Bay Area riffage, British steel and Southern sass.

Nate Garrett, however, is a true alchemist.

Yes, he mines the rich seams of 70s rock, 80s metal and even thrash.

But with those gleaming elements, he’s forged a distinctive style the band can call their own.

 And Ghost At The Gallows is the glorious result.