Spiritbox – Fear of Fear EP Review

This band continues to suck me in with their luscious sounds. This album feels a bit more rock than metal, but there’s nothing wrong with that. While they maintain...

Released by: Rise Records/Pale Chord

Genre: Metal

Links: https://spiritbox.com/

 

Line Up:

Courtney LaPlante – Vocals
Mike Stringer – Guitar
Zev Rose – Drums
Josh Gilbert – Bass

 

Tracklist:

1. Cellar Door
2. Jaded
3. Too Close / Too Late
4. Angel Eyes
5. The Void
6. Ultraviolet

 

This band continues to suck me in with their luscious sounds. This album feels a bit more rock than metal, but there’s nothing wrong with that. While they maintain a metal edge, there’s a wider berth in the sound of the guitars, bass, and drums with this release than there was previously.

I found this band probably like many people through “Sun Killer,” and it hooked me in instantly. I streamed the album front to back, far too many times to count, and then additionally got to see them perform at RockFest in Cadott, WI in 2022, the same year I discovered them. They amazed me then, and they amaze me now.

However, back to The Fear of Fear EP, the real reason for this review. As I’ve listened to this release again far too many times, I find a sense of elation every time I do.

Courtney’s voice has a different feel all around, a little more rounded, less breathy, more direct. Like she has a message to speak and you’re going to hear it whether you want to or not. Her scream, much the same, feels like it’s become more pronounced. This isn’t to say it was bad before. Dare I say the guitars feel slightly more melodic while maintaining that hard-edged rock sound. As I mentioned, there’s just a little bit more berth to the guitars overall, which isn’t to say they don’t cut through like metal, but it feels heavier in audible weight. I think it really adds. The bass really hits in this release, and maybe the mix was intended for that, but that’s one part of this band that I appreciate – hearing the bass, hearing it cleanly mixed along with everything else. So often in rock music, the bass can get buried. The drums hit just as hard and are mixed on point, just like their previous release; per usual, it had me air drumming.

Cellar Door – What a way to start this album off; it hits right off the bat, and the mosh pit inside your head and body also starts moving. Her scream in this one is straight demonic, but given the lyrical content, it works really well. I like the rhythmic changes in this song throughout, and the little pauses here and there. It keeps the flow going, but your head can nod up and down clearly the whole time. The slow fade-out ending of this song into just noise is done perfectly. It flows right into the next song in usual Spiritbox fashion.

Jaded – The subtle programmed start to this song gives way to a blast of air and sound in your eardrums, to give way to the first time you hear Courtney’s singing voice in this album, and it’s here you’ll hear the roundness I spoke about. I like the harmonies in this song, even if it is just with herself layering; it really adds to the contextual nature of the song. The harmonious nature of the song in general is present in all the instruments. I really like the guitars in this song too; the little single-note picking at the end of the song has a certain sound that I can’t put my finger on, but I like it.

Too Close / Too Late – Another subtle start to a great song. This is my favorite track on the album. Her voice, the words, the drums especially with the hi-hat play in the second verse. This is one song where the drums got me air drumming. The bridge is especially attractive; it’s soft, poignant, and powerful. Then we hit the chorus after the bridge, and it just hits a little harder. I really like how this song ends; it picks up speed with the double-time, making the listener want more, well, making me want more. There’s also no screaming in this song, which makes it stand out a little bit.

Angel Eyes – Missing the scream? The harder sound? Well, you’re in luck; this track hits you like a 2×4, get ready for it. This song is quite perfect, and that key change in the breakdown, a tasty treat if you notice it. Everything about this song screams mosh pit, and not sitting down, maybe even holding your breath as not to detract from the run you’re going to take in your mind during this tune. This really is a good running tune, personal experience speaking here.

The Void – This tune is a little faster than the other songs on the album, and that feels good. This is one where you feel and hear the bass with superior clarity. This track flows really nicely; there’s a lot of movement all around. The little guitar solo/synth thing in the breakdown is nice too. Right near the end, they slow down to that djenty doomy Spiritbox groove we all know and love, but they also add in harmonies and then BAM, it’s over. You can breathe again, another good running song with all the sonic movement in the song.

Ultraviolet – A little slower, the song has a lot of aural texture to it in a different way than the rest of the album until the chorus. I like the heavy and slower feel to it. I like the airy feel in this song; it gives space that isn’t totally present through the other songs on the album. The instrumental breakdown and light vocal breakdown at the end close out this album, giving way for a perfect repeat point for the next listen through.

My only real complaint about this album is it’s not long enough. I wish there was more. But given how extensively this band has been touring, how they’ve had hardly any downtime, I am happy with this album, and I’m happy to find the sound I did. Now to go see them again live!

 

Written by: Chris Rugowski

Ratings: 9/10

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