Spirit Was: Heaven’s Just A Cloud [Album Review]

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Spirit Was
Heaven’s Just A Cloud
Danger Collective Records [2021]

The Fire Note headphone approved

Spirit Was is the new moniker used by multi-instrumentalist and illustrator Nick Corbo which found his primary music project, LVL UP, calling it quits in 2018. On his debut studio album, Heaven’s Just A Cloud, Corbo showcases his use of musical time and space as he creates an extraordinary mix of indie rock that steeps in slowcore but then expands out and at times is heavy, experimental and fantastically distorted.

The album starts off with the intense “I Saw The Wheel,” which finds the group crawling along with a muscular instrumentation that at times only features Corbo and his guitar until its last minute where Spirit Was unleashes a hellish metal attack that takes over your speakers. It comes complete with Corbo transitioning to a thrash vocal that shows you the exit. It is one of the most exciting tracks I have heard this year. No other song launches itself into such a thrash metal frenzy on Heaven’s Just A Cloud but every song has this brutal strength to its guitars while Corbo fuses memorable melodies and vocal harmonies.

This formula works throughout the album but Spirit Was hits its stride in the middle of the record on the 8-minute “Olive Branch & Brown Dove.” The song has an ebbing riff that repeats itself but then subsides to a catchy harmony that stands alone before the track changes before your ears as its last 2 minutes wanders off in a psychedelic and off-kilter acoustic guitar solo. It is exactly what you didn’t expect but is the type of innovation that makes you take notice. These quick changes of scenery keep the record pulsing and happens time and time again like when the interesting instrumental “Spirit Was” hits or the closing quiet bedroom track “Caught In A Dream,” that shows another face of Corbo.

Spirit Was feels like a dense post-punk record on the surface but all of its tempo and sonic changes keep the album moving and switches genres with each track. It has a very vocal Built To Spill vibe with the slower guitar pace of Karate but contains the muscle of Failure or Hum. Heaven’s Just A Cloud weaves a fantastic musical map in your head and should be experienced with headphones. I like records that give you something different while still tapping that familiar tone in your head. Spirit Was does just that as Heaven’s Just A Cloud offers something new with every spin and becomes that record you tell all your friends about.

Key Tracks: “I Saw The Wheel” / “Olive Branch & Brown Dove.” / “Come Back Up To The House”

Artists With Similar Fire: Hum / Karate / Failure

Spirit Was Website
Spirit Was Instagram
Danger Collective Records

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