Review Summary: A journey across the sea.
After leaving the melodic hardcore band Hopesfall back in the mid-2000s, guitarist Chad Waldrup released a self-titled, one-man-band blend of shimmering post-rock and catchy instrumental rock under the moniker Of Sinking Ships. Although the sound was very successful and he teased some new demos on Myspace (yes, this is how long ago it was), he suddenly stopped updating and was rarely heard from since. Now, seemingly out of the blue, eight years later and with two extra bandmates, Of Sinking Ships is back for another unique spin on the post-rock genre.
The biggest change for Of Sinking Ship’s sophomore release seems to be thematic: whereas the self-titled debut was focused on catchy, shorter cuts of guitar-driven post-rock, The Amaranthine Sea
sets out to be a concept album offering an expanded, cinematic type of feel, where each track is a part of a bigger picture. Also, while Chad Waldrup handled all of the guitar, bass and drums on the S/T, The Amaranthine Sea
introduces a dedicated bassist and drummer, allowing a little more technical prowess and more of a mixture of creative ideas this time around. As for the concept, The Amaranthine Sea
can loosely break down into three sections of a journey across the sea: setting sail, a sinking ship, and survivors recovering.
The first chunk of the concept starts with setting sail, and comprises of the album’s first six tracks. “It’s Easier With No Destination” opens up with swirling guitars and busy drums, creating the anxiety of starting a new path, before calming down with more soothing, catchier, care-free tracks “Shifting Only With The Winds” and “Comforted By Predictable Current And Tide”. The tone and mood of the album shift for the second chunk of the album, starting with the standout track “And Then Your Squall Is Upon Me”, thematically conveying the approaching dangers and the inevitable disaster. “Colliding On Rocks I Knew Not Existed” is the climax of the story and the album’s darkest, moodiest song, complete with unsettling screeches of guitar as the rhythm section pounds loudly.
After the wreckage comes the album’s closing section, which conveys surviving the disaster and finding shelter. Starting the home stretch comes two quieter, floaty, traditional post-rock driven songs “Now, Only The Depths I See” and “As I Surface, With New Revelation Emblazoned” before the listener comes up for air with “Breathing Anew”, another standout track from the album, featuring expansive guitar chords, fuzzy bass and driven drum beats. “I Set Sail On Winds Of Renewal” creates more optimism of surviving the wreckage to carry on, while “For the Isle of Reverie” closes the album on a subdued note, leaving time for reflection on what has happened and what is yet to come.
As a music fan, there are few things more satisfying than a pleasant surprise, and The Amaranthine Sea
is nothing short of a gift from out of the blue. While the album does feel like a step back in terms of pure catchiness and unique musicianship that embodied the self-titled, The Amaranthine Sea
delivers as a whole, creating an engrossing post-rock and ambient sound that evolves through the sixty minute run-time, and is easily one of the best for the genre of this year.