Merchant Ships
For Cameron


5.0
classic

Review

by Aziz STAFF
January 26th, 2012 | 117 replies | 11,431 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Frighteningly beautiful.

Poignancy isn’t really feigned; the most terrifyingly heart-wrenching moments in our lives involve those closest to us: our family and friends. Not lugubrious teenage heartbreak, not our mundane daily routines which somehow evoke a despondency that seemingly intensifies (but is actually probably just aggrandized) as the days go by while we realize that life has somehow passed us by and “the rest of our lives” has begun, and certainly not “the system”, perhaps the most impersonal of all our familiar tormentors. Music, and art, by token, is rife with emotion – hell, it’s an outlet for our frustrations, fears, elations, emotions, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that every drop of emotion plucks solemnly at our heartstrings. Of course, that’s all subjective, but the ones who often get it [closest to] right are the ones whose messages are the most incisive and most universal.

Merchant Ships got it right.

Relentless and fervidly emotive, Merchant Ships’ final contribution to the screamo world is a brief, yet passionate affair. The guitars are at times warm and animated, and at other times jarring and brusque, but always working in unison with ardent and spastic drumwork to layer the album with an organic and lucid backdrop upon which the tormented, biting screams of vocalist Jack Senff resonate with impetuous candor and striking vehemence. It’s not screaming for the sake of noise; Senff’s tortured wails are so perfect because of the visceral desperation that gushes from every abject and poignant lyric that he is able to muster. The grim gang howls of “from me to you with sincerity” over the prolonged and brooding instrumental undertow on “Dying” lead to the final agonizing proclamation of “I won’t ever leave”, shrieked with a perhaps incomparably forlorn veracity. Senff’s despairing and languished lyrics about the spontaneous dismantling of his humble, immaculate family as a child are frightening in their simplicity, and when they roar out of his throat, biting candor evident and dripping from each word, it becomes a horrifying, distress-inducing affair. And just as the somber mood is set, melancholy gripping everything within view, the brash guitars of “Sentinel” come crashing through the horizon, accompanied by the blustery, almost hubristic “I want to see the backs of your fucking eyes, crying, pleading: ‘please stop hurting me’”. Censure pervades every note, every crash, every scream, until fatigue overcomes the group and the song is repose, the only audible sounds the anxious and shallow breathing of an exasperated Senff. Suddenly, lethargy forgotten, each member of the band storms the sonic envelope in a blind fury fuelled by passion and almost palpable malice, thunderous chords filled with scathing emotion, bass sprinting frantically and erratically, and a reviling uproar of gang vocals creating a frenetic atmosphere. It’s a terse, but potent sonic onslaught, for its frigid punch lingers retroactively, the terrifyingly perverse taunt of “you will never escape” echoing in our minds even as the trenchant chords and dismal miasma of “Sleep Patterns” pervades the soundscape.

The album runs an unorthodox gambit, delivering both achingly effectual music and horrifying spoken word, specifically in the eerie “Sleep Patterns”, in which the speaker calmly describes a gruesome dream in incredibly vivid detail. As the soft, melancholy acoustic guitar emits intermittent chords, the story is brought to the forefront, the explicit “my neck is broken, and my skull is fractured, I bleed to death in excruciating pain” delivered with a sociopathic nonchalance that inspires indignation and terror. Suddenly, the entire band enters, softly building in tension as the speaker describes his plans to bring his dream to fruition. As the group reaches the limits of their crescendo, our speaker abandons his monotone expression, finally emoting a semblance of trepidation as the music ceases and he utters the intensely human “I am afraid”. Really, it’s the subtleties of the album – the pithy flashes of honesty, the acute, laconic declarations, the debilitating “oh shit, that’s me” moments – that make it so profound. The instrumentation is perfectly suited to evince the emotions, at times reserved and at others ostentatious, depending on the targeted sentiment, and consistently provide a picturesque canvas upon which Jack Senff is free to paint with a chromatic palate of honesty and ardor. For Cameron is an agonizing ordeal of a screamo record that, despite its brevity, terrifies and haunts in its desperation, bleak lyricism, and consummate instrumentation, attacking all of our emotions individually and relentlessly, ultimately making it a fiercely draining but profoundly rewarding listen.



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user ratings (130)
Chart.
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Comments:Add a Comment 
GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
January 26th 2012



5968 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I absolutely hate this album.

Adabelle
January 26th 2012



4213 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Lots of words I don't understand.
+
Very well written.
-
You gave this a 5 and I enjoyed it but not hugely.
=
Pos'd.

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
January 26th 2012



5968 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

oh man I hope this didn't come off as pretentious and like I just sat there with a thesaurus for five hours because I got a pretty excited and (perhaps overly) descriptive with this one; I'll try to work on that for my next review.

But thanks for the pos's guys!

sniper
January 26th 2012



18929 Comments


nice, last.fm is always reccing me this band, but i've never listened bc they look really lame in their pictures.

Digging: Towers - Bel Air Highrise Plantation

Rev
January 26th 2012



9373 Comments


Good to see this finally got a review, rules

Great review, pos'd

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
January 26th 2012



5968 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

haha I feel that. In all honesty though based on your tastes, I think you'd really dig this band

edit: thanks Rev!

seedofnothing
January 26th 2012



3425 Comments


I rarely listen to emo but I might check this out.

sniper
January 26th 2012



18929 Comments


yeah i'll check it out. been meaning to for a while, this is a midwest band right? meaning from the midwest, not the style.

FelixCulpa
January 26th 2012



1236 Comments


This is pretty darn good so far. Pos'd as well.

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
January 26th 2012



5968 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah I think they're from Indiana or something, lol

Thanks for the great feedback guys!

Enotron
January 26th 2012



7695 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this band sucks used to like em tho

whywontyoudie
January 26th 2012



3063 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"but i've never listened bc they look really lame in their pictures."

I always thought their pictures were pretty hilariously bad. But awesome because of this.

sixthgoldenticket
January 26th 2012



1176 Comments


william bonney rules too

scissorlocked
January 26th 2012



3508 Comments


seems kinda hyperbolic at times, but, this review is brilliantly written

Pos


Digging: John Roberts - Ausio

sixthgoldenticket
January 26th 2012



1176 Comments


WE'RE ALL CAPTAINS ON A SINKING
SSSHHHHHHHHHHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIP

joshuatree
Emeritus
January 26th 2012



3743 Comments


the band is from five mins away from where i used to live and the album has my name in it csb

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
January 26th 2012



5968 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

then you gotta listen to it cam

joshuatree
Emeritus
January 27th 2012



3743 Comments


yeah i'll give it a shot

fulgrim
January 27th 2012



1542 Comments


pretty nice stuff, can't see this ever being a 5 though.

Adabelle
January 27th 2012



4213 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah Sniper you will enjoy this, seeing as we have differing tastes in the same things.



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