The hype around Vancouver Island based metal core quartet Spiritbox is real.
While they were always destined for great things (which has been apparent to me since I discovered singer Courtney LaPlante doing vocal booth live singing videos on YouTube), it is with their 2021 album ‘Eternal Blue’ that they’ve catapulted themselves on the map of record breaking successes and festival main stages.
It’s not hard to see why. On stage of Hamburg’s sold out Knust, the band captures every inch of attention of every starved heavy music fan here tonight, after playing festivals all across Europe and the UK. Support comes from UK bands Invisions and Tigress, although it’s not that the crowd needed any warming up in the first place. Both bands receive a warm welcome from the eager crowd.
Even though Courtney has to perform with an injured ankle, resulting in what she herself describes as ‘The Senior Citizen Version of Spiritbox‘, there is no real visible sign that could possibly disappoint or detract from the sheer force of the group’s performance. Opening with the iconic ‘Circle With Me’, which has amassed more than 15 million streams on Spotify, and me clinging on to my camera for dear life (in an actual photo pit!! Thank Christ!) with a mad crowd behind my back, this return to live music for many people feels like a life-affirming slap in the face, or a kick in the shin, however you want to put it.
While Courtney’s vocals are clearly one of the band’s unique appeals, the artful and ethereal instrumentation on ‘Eternal Blue’ translates perfectly live. Songs like ‘Hurt You’ and ‘Halcyon’ are a shock to the system, especially for those who are still somewhat the joys of live music after the painfully long break. The band’s last time in Europe had been in the fateful year of 2020.
Even after this intense run of festivals, the band is highly focused. Courtney’s vocals are as impressive as they are diverse – ‘Silk In The Strings’ shows off her growling and shouting range, as does ‘The Mara Effect, Pt.3’, which the crowd acknowledges loudly. But the intricate drums and bass lines during the song stand out too, while guitarist and Spiritbox’ founding member Mike Stringer carries the songs on a wave of riffs.
Drinking tea and ginger shots, Courtney points out how special Germany is for any touring metal bands from North America, alluding to the country’s long tradition of loud music, and dedicates the slow and emotional ‘Constance’ to them. The audience moves Courtney almost to tears, making her crack up. Joking how she’s ‘an old tired bitch’ that gets sad, the band moves on to ‘Blessed Be’, an older fan favorite, during which her clean vocals really excel. But it’s the breakdown which has my skin in goosebumps immediately.
Of course ‘Holy Roller’ makes the room explode towards the end of the set, the song after which in the band’s career, nothing was ever the same. And I have a feeling, this 550 cap venue will be the most intimate setting I will ever get to witness the band in, as they are clearly moving on to bigger, better things. In fact, if ‘Eternal Blue’ is an indicator of what is to come, Spiritbox is nothing short of unstoppable.