City Of Ships


Written by: PP on 18/03/2015 23:05:01

It took unusually long for 2015 to produce the first album that in my ears is a clear-cut candidate for at least a top five finish overall come December, but here's one that may end up spearheading a multitude of end-of-year lists when that time comes. "Ultraluminal", the third album by City Of Ships, sees the Austin / Brooklyn group execute some fairly radical changes to their soundscape compared to the progressive post-hardcore/post-metal of "Minor World" from three years ago and its excellent predecessor "Look What God Did To Us?" in 2009.

After the shoddy production values and slightly cumbersome beginning with "The Light You Stole" - which is still a great track all things said - the band push out an incredible duo of tracks in the form of "Alarm" and "Metadata Blues". Especially the latter track showcases City Of Ships at their most accessible, bringing in raspy clean vocal melodies and dreamy introspection that borrows heavily from the successful Balance & Composure recordings in the past few years. At the same time, songwriting majestics in the vein of Thrice circa "Beggars"-era are mixed in for a perfect balance between progressive undertones, catchy pop elements and depth-laden structures overall. The soundscape is thick and detailed, offering plenty of variety between the quiet and the dreamy atmospherics to the loud crescendos of crashing cymbals and bass-driven grooves, which are seen on "Preeminence". The vocals have been toned down a notch from the semi-screamed types we saw in the past toward a cleaner and more sing-alongable style though the ravaging post-metal roars also appear at frequent intervals. Tempo is also used as a significant element throughout the disc, with many tracks reaching almost punk levels in terms of speed, while others explore minimalism through slow progressive passages to allow for the quintessential spacious soundscapes City Of Ships have been known for in the past.

When put together, "Ultraluminal" feels completely different to their past releases while still retaining a sense of familiarity in the process. The band have brought in significant new elements that, in my ears, improve their sound massively from the decent but somewhat forgettable "Minor World". The songwriting has taken massive leaps forward and more or less every single song on the record is one worth nothing down as a must hear from the record. But with "Private Party", "The Old Man", and "Mile High" oozing brilliance, not to even mention the "Alarm" and "Metadata Blues" tracks mentioned earlier, it's clear that City Of Ships have written something special here. Complex, progressive music with accessible vocals and bearable song lengths with distinct nods towards Balance & Composure, Thrice and Basement? That's "Ultraluminal" for you. Experiencing a watery mouth yet?

Download: Private Party, Alarm, Metadata Blues, The Old Man, Mile High
For the fans of: Balance & Composure, Thrice, Basement, Torche
Listen: Facebook

Release date 20.03.2015
Golden Antenna Records

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