Having a hit song is one thing, but backing up that success in a sustainable manner is something else entirely. Tales of bands eaten up and spat out by the music industry after failing to build on early promise are commonplace, and it’s that fear of failure, of not living up to the hype, that can crush artists and stifle their creativity before they’ve had the chance to truly blossom.
But that’s not the case for Spiritbox.
The release of the single “Holy Roller” by the Canadian metal three-piece in July of 2020 was a runaway success, scoring the band – vocalist Courtney LaPlante, guitarist Michael Stringer and bassist Bill Crook – the No. 1 song of the year on Sirius XM as well as several million streams. Now, with Spiritbox preparing to unleash their debut album Eternal Blue on September 17, the pressure is there to achieve even greater things. But instead of crumbling under the weight of lofty expectations, the band have taken it all in their stride, delivering a record that’s intelligent, ambitious and, most importantly, uniquely theirs.
All the things that made “Holy Roller” and previous, well-received single “Blessed Be” so special – fierce intensity, unwavering emotion and technical splendour – are present across Eternal Blue, but the formula is never once repeated. Whether it’s the rapturous metal chug of opening track “Sun Killer” or the ambient melodies of album closer and recent single “Constance,” each of Eternal Blue’s 12 tracks bring something fresh to the table, and for Courtney, it’s that love of experimentation and flamboyant songwriting that makes Spiritbox stand-out from the crowd.
“The experimental aspect of our music is a key part of Spiritbox,” she explains. “We’re very open with our approach, and in some ways, we’re still figuring ourselves out. All we do is make the music we feel compelled to create – there’s no grand plan here. We go with our feelings; if I'm pissed-off or I'm mad, we run with that and see what happens.
“In previous bands I’ve been in, the genre fluidity was almost formulaic, like a novelty,” she continues. “But that’s not what Spiritbox is about. We’re very self-aware with how we do this, and that’s attracting open-minded people to our music. With Eternal Blue, we want to get even more people like that on board.”
One such person who was enticed by the openness of Eternal Blue was Architects frontman Sam Carter, who features on the song “Yellowjacket.” A thrilling dose of atmospheric metal inspired by the ‘90s alt-rock movement, it’s a track which sees the voices of Courtney and Sam come together to devastating effect. Elsewhere, “Circle With Me” provides a dose of textbook Spiritbox virtuosity, the light-and-dark, soft-and-heavy facets of the band’s sound blending effortlessly, with Courtney’s clean vocals and harrowing screams demonstrating her awe-inspiring range. “Secret Garden,” meanwhile, mixes pop with prog-rock, as Michael and Bill conjure a vivid musical backdrop over which Courtney’s melodies soar.
The wild abandon of the music reflects Eternal Blue’s imaginative theming. Inspired by a computer virus to which the album owes its name, the phrase ‘Eternal Blue’ took on a new life and conjured all manner of images in Courtney’s mind, which in turn inspired the songs.
“It very much became its own thing for me,” she says. “It’s like, yeah, I feel eternally blue, and sometimes I feel like I'm in a totally depressed world. Hearing the words ‘Eternal Blue’ made me think of a world where the sun died, and the planet was slowly dying with it. From there, an array of images formed in my mind, and the songs grew into something bigger.”
The hope that Courtney, Michael and Bill have for Eternal Blue is that, like it did for their vocalist during its creation, the album can latch onto the hearts and minds of those that hear it. But despite their successes, Spiritbox never has and never will be a band intent on conquering the globe – “Hype isn’t healthy, and it can’t sustain your art,” Courtney states – with the humble goal of its three members a simple one: connection.
“What we have with Eternal Blue is something I hold dearly,” Courtney concludes. “I’m incredibly passionate about what we’ve created, but becoming the biggest band ever isn’t my aim. For people to find hope and comfort in this music is far more important. As long as this album finds its place with people who truly connect with it, I’ll be happy.”