Review Summary: Soft, intriguing, and beautiful.
On my journey through Ireland, I picked up quite a number of CDs, which predictably enough were mostly metal albums. What I didn’t count on was finding this marvellous gem of an album, mistakenly tucked neatly between two heavy metal CDs. And what a surprise it was. The Shore That Fears the Sea is a mesh of so many different styles, that I find it hard to even describe what sort of sound they have. It’s most obviously folk, but it’s been transformed into something that’s psychedelic, atmospheric, and hauntingly melodic, all in the same album. The icing on the cake though, is that United Bible Studies is from Ireland; I’ve found it very typical for bands of any genre that come from Ireland to very often incorporate their musical heritage into their own music, which I think is a wonderful thing.
The Shore That Fears the Sea begins with a hypnotic, almost dreamy, atmospheric piece that lulls you into a state of paralysis, ready to be enveloped by the next song. There are a lot of mellow breaks in the music, atmospheric passages that are a mixture of different sounds, instruments and tones, over which sombre and melancholic melodies flow in and out, supporting the mood and feel of the music. For this is most definitely an album of mood and no matter what you are feeling like, you can be sure that United Bible Studies will steady your heartbeat and cool your mind down.
As you continue into the album, the vocals are introduced, which are plain and dull, in a good sense. How I’d ever imagine a boring voice to be good is beyond me, but the soft, straight-faced vocals on the album sit perfectly with the slow tempos and acoustic medleys. An Irish accent pokes itself around, not quite there, but almost. The seventh track (The One True God Lies To Himself While The One True Goddess Sings), is the epitome of why the soft, nearly spoken word, vocals are so great. This isn’t the whole of it however: along with the already mentioned vocal style, moments where the vocals are elevated to Sigur Ros levels really make The Shore That Fears the Sea a journey needed to be undertook by everyone.
The clutter of sounds comes together finally midway through, with Tributaries Of The Styx Under Dublin centring around the climax the album so desperately needed. This then fizzles out, and The Shore That Fears the Sea returns to the snail’s pace it had begun with. The effect of reaching the climax becomes apparent in the final few songs, all of which are strong in mood, and defined in melody. The Irish influence is most apparent starting with Tributaries Of The Styx Under Dublin, and continues on until the end, where we are left with an absolutely beautiful and mesmerising piece, Captain William Coey. This song completes the album. The Shore That Fears the Sea began in an unorganised way, tried to find the melody hidden beneath the weighty atmosphere, made obvious attempts to find it, and eventually succeeded, culminating in a delightful end to an amazing piece of music. Highly recommended.