Review Summary: Aggressive and bleak, Shipwreck's latest release proves that they are at the forefront of today's hardcore scene.
With “Abyss” Shipwreck A.D. has established themselves as one of the saving graces of hardcore today. Drawing equally from modern sounds and the mid-90s metallic hardcore sound, Shipwreck A.D. has been able to tap into an extremely heavy, dark sound that resonates in these current times of global unrest. While the members of Shipwreck may be aware of those outer issues their releases have so far dealt with those inner issues that haunt us all. Like that ridiculously boring Mastodon album “Blood Mountain”, Shipwreck’s “Abyss” deals with the conceptual journey of a man from the depths of a sea to the highest peaks of a mountain. Of course this “concept” is just metaphorical garble for vocalist J.D. to spew his own issues of hate and self immolation over. Accenting that hatred is a steady flow of some of the best hardcore guitar playing I have ever heard. Backing up the prominent guitar section is an extremely skilled rhythm section that clearly has a good hold on their instruments. The drumming on this album is a notable improvement in quality from the band’s two previous 7”. This could be solely in terms of the production upgrade, but some of the double bass rolls and drum fills on “Abyss” will just leave you with your mouth on the floor.
Notable tracks include “Samur” with its ominous acoustic intro that quietly paves the way for one of the albums most intense tracks. “Lotus” is a brutal dedication to those people who are willing to look inside of others rather than choosing their spouses solely on outside attributes. “Ascent” is a metaphorical allusion describing a stoic mountain that inside is a raging volcano, obviously a references towards the unleashed hate of the band. “Abyss” has clearly dipped deep into the anguish of its composers and in turn come out sounding intensely bleak. No gang vocals, no moments of happiness, even on the last track “Zenith”, when we think we are going to get some solace via the female vocals of Denise Serazzi, Shipwreck turns an otherwise beautiful vocal performance into an epic post-metal jaunt similar to Isis only much denser in delivery. It is an excellent closer and successfully caps the end of “Abyss” in an unexpected way. Perhaps that is where the strengths of “Abyss” rest, its unexpected nature of doing things. There are moments that this band sounds like early Modern Life is War (“Squall”), early Metallica (“Beached”) and even like 108’s most recent release (“Helix”). This is a beautifully diverse record and almost perfectly spaced out in terms of the track list, obviously in just a review I can not give this band enough credit.
The old saying with hardcore is that the releases either define a new sound or just copy an old one and clearly Shipwreck A.D. is trying to put themselves in that first group. By combining old and new hardcore influences with the current trends of post-metal and thrash they’ve created a rhythmically dynamic, melodically bleak testament to their aggression. In some ways this isn’t even hardcore anymore and better for it. “Abyss” is one of the most notable heavy albums of the year and if you have any interest in music that dwells in the realms of the pissed off this is the record for you.