Review Summary: With their debut full length LP, Omens, Canadian based hardcore merchants, Black Ships, offer their own take on the hardcore genre.
During a recent hardcore binge I discovered a number of both well known and slightly less well known bands, Canada’s own Black Ships were one of the lesser known bands to crop up, but one band that turned out to be one of my better and most intriguing finds.
is the band’s debut LP and finds the band combining the traditional hardcore song writing formula of aggressive chords and fast tempos with the conflicting slower, trudging sounds of sludge. While not being as slow as traditional sludge, tracks such as “No Eulogy” still manage to use the sludgy influence to drown the listener in long, droning chords which provide murky atmospheres and a perfect backdrop for the vocals. The most rewarding benefit of combining these two song writing styles is the variety it gives the band’s sound; one minute the listener is being crushed by the slower/sludgier sections, the next they are hit in the face with a fast moving, aggressive section breathing life back into the track and keeping their attention. Melodic lines, such as in the track “The End” are sparse, but when they are used work well as hooks, pulling the listener in and providing something catchy and increasing re-playability.
Vocally, Black Ships offer a traditional approach with a throat roar employed with a delivery which matches the bleak settings that the instruments create, providing an intense but immersing experience. As expected given the instrumental approach, the lyrics deal with bleak subjects such as death, betrayal, disease and all things doom and gloom, but this again only heaps more spoonfuls of effectivess on to the band's sound. The percussion and bass also further fuel the suppressive feel with their heavy rhythm section consisting of rhythmic double bass and drum patterns and buzzing bass lines, which mainly provide a root note backing to the guitarists, minus the odd bass break such as in “No Eulogy”, but still manage to add to the band’s heavy sound and bring more to the soundscape.
The album’s overall sound been well mixed and produced in a way that emphasises the lumbering, crushing feel that the band are aiming for, however it would have been more enjoyable if the bass had been placed a little higher in the mix, but as the bass offers nothing truly mind blowing it is not overly detrimental to the listener’s enjoyment.
is a solid debut album from Black Ships and offers an enjoyable first insight into the band’s attempt at mixing hardcore with slower sludge influences. The mention of sludge should not bring thoughts of Noothgrush, Dystopia or Thou, but more of a dirty, looming hardcore aesthetic towards the style. Some may find that the album becomes repetitive during its second half but the sheer aggression and power of the performances makes up for this lack in experimentation or variation. Hopefully the band will continue to guild on this promising start, further develop their sound and produce another great record with their sophomore.
• No Eulogy
• Ars Moriendi