Spiritbox float away on the ethereal 'Constance'

4 December 2020 | 11:44 am | Alex Sievers
Originally Appeared In

Acting as the polar opposite to 'Holy Roller,' Spiritbox are practically floating with the beautiful soundscape of 'Constance.'

Acting as the polar opposite to 'Holy Roller,' Spiritbox are practically floating with the beautiful soundscape of 'Constance.'

What worked so well about Spiritbox's previous single, the now immensely popular and lauded 'Holy Roller,' other than it's interesting religious allegories and it being a sick track, is that it was a one-off. It was unique for the Canadian band. Spiritbox have plenty of heavy moments - various sections from the respective finales and breakdowns in 'Bleach Bath,' 'Rule Of Nines,' and 'Blessed Be' - but 'Holy Roller' was a full-blown brutal metalcore song throughout, with a great industrial edge underscoring it's deadly pick scrapes and head-crushing low-end. Something that the swiftly rising group hadn't exclusively focused on before in a single composition. That's why it stuck out. I believe in this so much I could start a cult, but if Spiritbox had predominantly written songs like that since day one, 'Holy Roller' likely wouldn't have blown up the way it has since it's release in July 2020.

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But Spiritbox aren't just a fuck-off heavy metalcore band. There's so much more to them than that; they're better than that. They've been playing around with intriguing art-rock, melodic and progressive ideas since their humble beginnings. Something the group are reminding everyone of with their latest track, the lovely and heartfelt 'Constance.' It's an ethereally beautiful and beautifully ethereal song, and I love the dynamic that this band can powerfully exude between each song released. Whereas 'Rule of Nines' and 'Blessed Be' felt like two sides of the same coin, 'Holy Roller' was something else entirely. Now the same is true of 'Constance'; it has it's own personality, it's own dynamic. In so many words, shit bangs!

While it's still "metal" - heavier, distorted metalcore guitars and scraping harmonics do make appearances as the song goes on - the drifting ambience and palpable atmosphere of 'Constance' is what really sells it. There's so much breadth to its sonic space, down to the fantastic mix and well-accented drumming and tasteful bass lines from Bill Crook, to the point where you could basically drown in it all. The last time I felt this way about a Spiritbox song was 'Trust Fall,' and that's one of my favourites songs by them.

Mike Stringer's elegant, noodling proggy guitar work and his dry, earthy tones evokes a similar mood to that of The Contortionist, an equally awesome band. That tone and playing works in contrast when the simpler, louder distorted chords kick in during the choruses and heavier passages where the arrangement layers are slathered on thick. They also capture the contemplative mood of the piece perfectly, especially when merged with the light crooning of vocalist Courtney LaPlante. Courtney has also been given some stellar vocal production with lovely reverb, delay and subtle over-dubs bringing out her vocal performance ten-fold, adding to the  melancholic lyrics about loss, dementia and "pressure in increments"; the song being dedicated to both Courtney’s grandmother, Phyllis, and the music video directors, Dylan Hryciuk's grandmother, Constance, whom the song is named after.

"I came to our director Dylan with a proposition: Let’s create the music video and the lyrical content of the song at the same time. We both felt compelled for the song and story to reflect the sorrow we both feel about our grandmothers passing away recently. Due to border shut downs, I was not able to say goodbye to my grandmother Phyllis, to whom the song is in tribute, or attend her funeral. I always promised her that I would sing at her memorial service, because she always requested a “pretty song with none of that scary screaming”. I hoped writing this song with no “scary screaming” in it would help me find a sense of closure. Dylan wrote his video concept to honour his grandmother, Constance to whom the video is in tribute. Our music videos usually have a horror element to them, and we wanted to explore a different side of horror: the horror of feeling like your mind is betraying you, due to a long battle with dementia. With Dylan’s permission, we named the song ‘Constance’ to immortalize her story.” -Courtney LaPlante

As for the cacophonous ending to 'Constance,' it's definitely a darker, heavier send off than how it begins three or so minutes prior, but it flows from what came before it suitably. Because it's an ending that feels like just that: an actual ending. As the instrumentals begin to slow down, like crashing waves, and the rumbling noise overtakes the swell as soft key notes ring out, bringing it all to a wonderful close; a touching musical piece of mourning and tribute.

Spiritbox have been working hard away on their debut album, which is set for release sometime in 2021.