Spiritbox – The Fear of Fear
Released: November 3, 2023
Courtney LaPlante // Vocals
Mike Stringer // Guitar
Zev Rose // Drums
Josh Gilbert // Bass
Alright kids, settle in for yet another contribution to the Spiritbox saga that has wowed crowds and set the band up for massive things since their conception back in 2016. During that time, they’ve more than proven their worth in their heavy music scene, while also dabbling in other genres to not pigeonhole themselves so early on.
This approach has gathered the group an abundance of fans from the heavy breakdown frothers to the melodic synth lovers, and so far, they’ve done no wrong following the release of their self-titled EP and singles collection, all the way through to their 2021 debut album Eternal Blue and last year’s surprise release three-track EP Rotoscope.
Without further ado, let’s jump into it…
‘Cellar Door‘ is not only the latest release but the song that proved regardless of how many clean songs they do, they can still whip our a fast and ferocious track filled to the brim with chunky riffs and blastbeats. Courtney’s raspy vocals draw us in surrounded by an ominous backing synth adding a new level of fear to the end result. Just prior to the halfway mark, there’s a tasty two-step beat that’ll have fans losing their minds in the mosh but Courtney’s unrelenting growls take centre stage with this one proving she is a force to be reckoned with. When the breakdown hits, if you’re not turning, you’re not listening right.
The EP transitions seamlessly into ‘Jaded‘ which brings Mike Stringer’s soaring djenty guitars to the spotlight surrounded by a Stranger Things-esque backing synth. Courto’s alluring vocals draw us in and attain your attention instantly. It’s that inch-perfect ebb and flow between heavy hitters and melodic jams that make Spiritbox the best at their craft and this is yet another fine example of their work. By the time the chorus hits you’re going to helplessly be signing ‘And I’ve always been ashamed that I want to / Fall into a dream with my honour desecrated / Blood is jaded’ and if you don’t at first, I guarantee you will come the second time round. It’s that juxtaposition of ‘this could be a radio rock single, but there’s plenty of screams throughout’ that makes ‘Jaded‘ one of the best tracks the band have released. It will draw in the non-metal fans for the chorus, but the rest of the track is for the metalcore and prog fans among us. Beautifully heavy with quality production. An instant hit that sits nicely beside sibling songs such as ‘Circle With Me‘, ‘Secret Garden‘ and ‘Rotoscope‘.
‘Too Close / Too Late‘ begins with soft keys taking us up to a powerful opening line from LaPlante. Her soothing and sweet cleans mesmerize alongside Josh Gilbert‘s basslines – which are much more present as the track progresses. A progressive slow hit with plenty of fills from the drums adding more oomph than expected. Talking about the drums, Zev’s build-up towards the final act is brilliant – hooking you in and delivering us to a section where the song opens up and we’re in jamming mode. Each instrumentalist goes hard playing alongside each other as Courtney steps back to let them have their moment. I have no faults on this one, it’s a delicate rock anthem that’ll offer a chance to catch your breath or lose yourself in the instrumentals throughout.
The final electronic beats lead us immediately into ‘Angel Eyes‘ where we’re straight back to HEAVY mode with a bassy force smacking you in the face once Courtney’s screams kick in. You love djent? You love gutturals? You love chunky riffs and machine-gun drums? Well, you’re gonna have a field day listening to this at full volume. As for the breakdowns? Expect nothing but total bedlam when this gets debuted live. Holy. Fucking. Shit. I’m going back in for a second spin…
Okay, now I’ve changed my underwear it’s time to hook into the single ‘The Void‘. Another of those hybrids that come across as a radio rock song but with much (MUCH) more technical elements than most Top 40 acts. Stringer’s guitar playing on this is some of the best we’ve heard him dabble in and progressive metalcore nuts should still be losing their minds over this one. Despite being released in April, it still managed to capture my attention after all this time and doesn’t feel overplayed or old. It fits snugly in the tracklisting too, running clean into ‘Ultraviolet‘ which makes me believe The Fear Of Fear was crafted to be a start-to-finish listening experience. That Stranger Things bassy synth returns, complimenting Courtney’s alluring cleans – which reach impressive highs and her softly spoken parts. When the electronic parts fade out and the band kicks in, we venture into softy rock territory with Mike’s echoing guitar piquing in the background. His playing isn’t overshadowed or drowned out, it just fits snugly between each element of the closing track’s layering (something I’ll touch on again soon). The introduction of the cowbell in the background is a nice touch that definitely doesn’t go unnoticed. Your attention will be obtained from the minute this starts and the journey you’ll embark on will lead you along without fail. It’s as if Spiritbox guide you hand-in-hand to the completion of the EP, making sure you pick up on each little detail along the way, without bombarding you with out-of-place musical sounds. My only gripe is it’s over too soon, but I guess this is another example of less is more and they certainly left me wanting more upon completion.