Saturday, July 16, 2011

Album Review: City of Ships - Minor World

Aforementioned in a previous post, the new release by City of Ships is coming, and this curious walk through a fuzzy, depressive masterpiece will be one to pick up. With vocals phasing in and out of a post-hardcore tonality similar to Thursday's heavier material, and an instrumental sound picking up hints of Rosetta, the minor key is prevalent throughout the release, thusly earning its rightful title, Minor World. The Florida-based trio brings out some amazing material in the new release, experimenting with a montage of different sounds and uses of sound to allow for the creation of a bedeviling air of hopelessness that becomes impossible to turn away from.
The first track on the album, "Clotilde", opens with a morbid, solitary guitar, picked up by some hammering on drums and a forceful distorted bass, while Eric Jernigan moans, "From ancient oaks down orchard roads, / The moss hangs, so alone, / Weeping for sins no one speaks, / But everybody knows", with interludes of distorted guitars and drums a-wailing, creating a bipolar feels of depression and anger that contrast harshly, yet blend so beautifully. As the song continues, Andrew Jernigan and his distorted bass provide a lot of the setup for transitional chords, becoming large and present instead of being mixed out, and a heavy dose on reverb allows Eric Jernigan to create an ethereal sound without sacrificing the stratospheric range of his guitar, screaming out in a heartfelt pain over the bleak tune. As the song fades into the next track, the pain from "Clotilde" remains vibrant and alive as a reminder of how aesthetically pleasing misery can sound.

A more up-tempo tune shows its face as the seventh track on the record, "Celestial Navigation". It begins with all instruments blazing, creating an angry, angsty feel to the song, with snare hits on two and four laying on the feel of power, as Eric screams, "Back and forth are the same roads, / It's an eternal open", while the music itself fades into an interlude of calmer reflection. With these two phrases being tossed back and forth, it surprises the listener when the progressive side of the track kicks in after the second, calmer interlude, changing the time signature and loading up on the transitional chords, sounding almost as though they don't fit into the tune at all, but creating a fantastic musical stress on those chords, tugging at the sanity of the listener to plead for those chords to be resolved. Finally, at the final glory of the track, about 3:30 in, the glorious, minor resolution begins, hitting absolutely dismal chords over and over again, sounding so discordantly cathartic that it feels like it should never end, like this is what the whole track led up to, and that it should last forever, until finally it concludes on one chaotic, summarizing chord. The power imbued in this one track is incredibly moving, like nothing I've ever heard before.

This album had so much buried in it that I feel like I only just barely began to scratch the surface on the complexity of the album. Despite my initial thoughts about the three-member setup (because it hasn't worked for many bands before), I am abashed to say that I had any negative preconceptions about this band. Minor World is a fantastically deep album, saying a lot on the surface level, and saying a lot more once you get down and really form your own opinions about this album. I'm hoping to hear a lot more from City of Ships, this was an incredible listen, and will challenge post-metal standards for some time to come.

You can check out the band on their MySpace and their You should also keep an eye out for when the album hits stores, July 19th.

Track Listing:

01) Clotilde
02) Subrosa
03) Low Countries
04) Tantric Engineer
05) Darkness at Noon
06) Easy Way _ Hard Way
07) Celestial Navigation
08) Sweet Delirium
09) Chainman
10) Low Lives

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