“It was right before doors, so we moved fast”: Mike Stringer lays down a ferocious 7-string playthrough of Spiritbox’s heaviest track yet in an empty arena – just minutes before fans storm the venue

Mike Stringer of Spiritbox playing guitar
(Image credit: Spiritbox)

Last Friday, Canadian heavy metallers Spiritbox dropped Cellar Door – the third song to be lifted from the band’s forthcoming EP, The Fear of Fear, which has quite rightly been described as “arguably their heaviest track” in over three years.

Set for release on November 3, the upcoming EP will be the band’s second in two years – following 2022’s surprise release, Rotoscope – and if Cellar Door has set any precedent, it may also be one of 2023's standout metal records.

To say Cellar Door could be Spiritbox's heaviest release since 2020’s Holy Roller, which paved the way for their dizzyingly popular breakthrough debut album, Eternal Blue, is no exaggeration: those sledgehammer riffs are brutal, and the deliberate beat-pushing feel keeps you on edge for the full four-and-a-half minutes.

To mark the release, Spiritbox’s resident electric guitar titan Mike Stringer partnered with Guitar World for an exclusive playthrough of Cellar Door, which was conjured up via the fretboard of an especially eye-catching seven-string Jackson Pro Plus… in an empty arena.

With his Pro Plus Dinky MDK EverTune 7 hooked up to an Apollo Arrow interface and his signature MixWave plugin (the same one he used for the whole of The Fear of Fear), Stringer effortlessly navigates the track’s pulverizing arrangement, traversing those off-kilter chromatic riffs and eerily dissonant lead lines with aplomb.

“This song is a ton of fun to play, it has some unconventional twists and turns,” Stringer tells Guitar World. “The main breakdown in the song has an odd push near the end, which I try to do with all downstrokes – it’s very satisfying to play.”

Of course, the empty arena adds some serious vibe to proceedings – a result of the band being on tour nonstop for most of the year, and forcing them to improvise while on the road.

“We had a small window of time to film it, so we figured it would be a cool environment to do it in,” Stringer says. “It was right before doors, and people usually start lining up to get beers and hotdogs real quick, so we moved fast!”

Aside from the hypnotic playing and makeshift studio, it’s the sparkle-finished Jackson that threatens to steal the show. Retrofitted with Fishman’s Open Core Modern humbuckers, the guitar is put through its paces by Stringer, who also spoke of his desire to one day spec out his very own signature guitar.

“A signature guitar has been a lifelong goal of mine,” he admits. “It would be such an honor to have one, but no plans yet. It took me a long time to find guitars that work for what I do.

“A big part of why I want a signature is to spec out and make it easier for others that play this style of music, and present them with the perfect guitar,” Stringer continues. “I have a couple customs in the works, and I can’t wait to get my hands on them.” Well, what are you waiting for, Jackson? 

The Fear of Fear is available to preorder now via Rise Records/Pale Chord ahead of its release on November 3.

Dates and tickets for Spiritbox’s final few October tour dates can be found on the band’s website.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.