Akin to opening a portal beyond this mortal coil, music beckons us to step into other mindsets, realities, and worlds. In the same fashion, Spiritual Poison entices listeners to dive deeper via its cinematic drone punctuated by dynamics of jarring heaviness, numbing feedback, and unexpected melodic reprieve.
As the vision of vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Ethan McCarthy, this sound instantly captivates on Spiritual Poison’s 2023 debut, Incorporeal, incoming November 17th from Closed Casket Activities (pre-order here).
“I wanted it to sound like a long journey through an otherworldly doorway,” McCarthy muses. “I think of spirituality a lot, so some of those ideas are present. Musically, there was so much emphasis on different instruments and trying things outside of the typical worlds of metal and noise.”
Ethan McCarthy has continued to affirm his status as an underground luminary. Between Primitive Man, Vermin Womb, and Many Blessings, he has remained consistent, releasing music at a dizzying pace, touring, and earning tastemaker acclaim. During 2022, he opted to shine a light on another side of his creativity with Spiritual Poison— under the influence of artists as diverse as Lawrence English and Tim Hecker. McCarthy not only sang and produced, but also handled guitar, synth, piano, and drums joined by a handful of friends on various instruments. “I play in some really heavy bands that are nasty and gritty,” he goes on. “I wanted to make a record that’s the opposite of everything I’ve usually put out. It’s still challenging and dark, but I’m relying on harmony instead of dissonance.”
Recorded and co-produced by Andy Nelson at Bricktop Studios and mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege, Incorporeal commences with rumbling guitar, sustained distortion and hypnotically haunting vocal transmissions that introduce Spiritual Poison‘s visceral, venomous and vital vision in widescreen. The album plunges to lower depths augmented by the interplay of modular synths. Running drums through analog effects, the track layers an electronic rhythm above live drums, balancing rhythm and movement in contrast. “We’re experimenting with unconventional elements and drums,” McCarthy goes on. “The album flows together by rising and falling.” He continues, “It’s a stressful journey… you leave with all of this knowledge, but it’s going to destroy you. Hopefully, that’s the vibe of the record.” In many ways, the name Spiritual Poison encapsulates this. “There are a lot of things in this world that poison you spiritually, and it was on my mind going into this,” he notes. “If you’re rotten spiritually, you’re unable to be good to people or decent to yourself. You need to know yourself and be in touch with the real character inside your spirit.”
In the end, Incorporeal finds McCarthy taking heavy music into new territory. “I hope you can listen to it while you’re driving, walking, meditating, or thinking,” he leaves off. “The goal was to make a solid experimental record.”