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The Seas - Give Up The Ghost [review]
Katarzyna NINa Górnisiewicz | Detailed or mini-review submissions: song, EP/album | Suggest an artist | Music Xray sign up
The Seas - Give Up The Ghost |self-released, 2015|

1. Battlecry, 2. Across the Earth, 3. Broken Bones, 4. The Hunter, 5. Premonition, 6. Mistakes, 7. Heterochromia, 8. Give up the Ghost, 9. All Our Weight, 10. Staring at the Sun, 11. Into the Fray, 12. Down, 13. Sharona

It's been 4 years now since The Seas released their debut album, A Separation. The musicians of this American electronic-rock quartet have a special creative bond that has naturally grown throughout those years. This has resulted in putting out another well-thought, arranged and composed album, Give Up The Ghost, offering 13 brand new songs. The music on the new release is mostly guitar driven, but all compositions offer a variety of flavors and contrasts - either tense or uplifting, and always touching.

"Battlecry" opens the album with soft guitars, switching later to a heavier tune. The high-pitched vocals (by Michael Sliter) along with the guitar (by Logan Powell) occupy the foreground, while the bass (by Jeremy Williams) and drums (by Richard Sester) provide a matching fill in the background. The tempo is rather slow and the general feel is that of despair. A prolonged scream and low tuned guitars lead listeners to the song's end.

Give Up The Ghost was thought as a concept album and thus, every song is linked with its immediate neighbors - not technically, but rather based on moods and tempo. Therefore, "Across The Earth" begins with a heavier vibe which, judging by repetitive bass lines and slow drum beats joined by emotional male vocals, is reminiscent of Tool's music. Michael controls his voice very well - his tone and range make The Seas' songs sound very characteristic. On top of that, "Across The Earth" is a memorable, very well written composition with each arrangement in the right spot, but not sacrificing the melody’s freedom.

"Broken Bones" sounds straight up goth from the very beginning thanks to a melancholic guitar tune which once goes low and deep, then reaches up for higher, melodic tones. There are also screams of panicked people, so listeners may imagine some incoming horror. Nevertheless, the entire song sounds more like an intro to a potent sequel rather than an already completed composition. The tension is growing towards the end but never reaches the anticipated apex.

The first notes of "The Hunter" jump in with a refreshing vibe, making it an instantly memorable melody. There are samplers (by Richard Sester) in use as well, which give the arrangements an electronic feel. However, the combination of vocals, guitar, and bass keeps the organic priority here. There's even an interesting synth addition which a receptive ear may associate with Delia Derbyshire's Dr Who main theme. Such placement makes it a neat contrast with the low tuned bass and high-pitched guitar riffs so the execution of this nifty idea can be considered successful. The track's mood is nostalgic and heart-opening to the point that it might make a few more emotional listeners shed a tear or two.

"Premonition" opens with weird, quite disturbing sound effects that may be an attempt at imitating the resonance of telepathic communication or even an alien's messages. This short instrumental track brings a murky and mysterious atmosphere, that could easily be utilized in a thriller movie.

You will love "Mistakes" for its well written, heavy composition, amazing arrangements and professional performance. The song's intro doesn't reveal what's to come but once it develops further, you'll know there's so much to discover with every new bar.

The transition gap between "Mistakes" and "Heterochromia" is virtually inaudible. The latter is both heavy and melancholic. It seems to be written for Michael mostly, letting him present the best of his voice. His vocals are supported by subtle arrangements written for all instruments and combined with samplers. There's also a melodic guitar solo which artfully emphasizes the emotion of the voice track.

If you loved "Mistakes", you will get definitely hooked on the album’s title song as the well. The composition is rich with arrangements, including both organic and electronic sounds. There's nostalgia, mystery and tension. The melodies will carry listeners far away, anchoring their attention with a single bass line. "Give Up The Ghost" crowns the tracklist on the strength of its amazing song writing and skillful performance.

While most of so far songs sounded guitar-oriented, "All Our Weight" brings an electronic addition just in the very beginning. A repetitive, clapped beat, characteristic of pop and hip hop appears next to more elusive guitar tunes, definitely capturing listener attention. It is later replaced by drums which along with affectionate vocals continue the main motif to the end of the song.
And again, the end of the track is swiftly linked to the beginning of "Staring at the Sun". This composition is a return to the sound heard at the opening of the album - the low tuned bass and high-pitched guitars creating memorable melodies. Gazing at the Sun is generally not recommended due to the obvious danger of having your retinas damaged, but listening to this potent song (especially with eyes closed) should please you immensely.

"Into The Fray" is yet another short interval between compositions, akin to "Broken Bones" and "Premonition". Its piano-based instrumental arrangements make it a good fit for a thriller movie, while scary breathing makes eerie food for imagination.

The first tunes of the lyrical yet heavy "Down" should make your heart beat faster through a slightly increased tempo, like in "The Hunter". The vocals are high and charged at times, later giving instrumental arrangements enough space to grow. If you listen closely, you'll notice both magic and technology present in the song. The drum beats are irregular but matched within the composition very well. The bass lines sound solid and the guitar doesn't jump before vocals. Yet another song to enjoy Michael's voice.

It's time for a cover now. The original, rock'n'roll version of "Sharona" was released by The Knack in 1979. The evergreen hit song has been covered by several other artists throughout the last three decades. The Seas had taken their shot at it as well. The tune’s atmosphere feels slow and weary at first, quite surprisingly if you consider the original source. One could tell The Seas have been inspired by Nine Inch Nails' newer songs and Reznor's method of singing, specifically when Michael sings "never gonna stop, give it up". The arrangements gradually open up and grow to the point of expressing peril, supported by very heavy, pleasantly entwined and graded guitar riffs. The cover's finishing guitar sound imitates a motorbike’s engine, in accordance with the lyrics.
It definitely has the heaviest guitars on the album and certainly speaks for the band's creative potential. If the next album is going to be this massive, it should be greeted with applause.

Sensitive listeners may identify with all the difficult theme present throughout the album - spiritual development towards original purity, strength, and balance within. Songs on Give Up The Ghost speak of accepting change as a means of progress, defying fear and negativity, separating the truth from the lies, stereotypes and imposed dogmas, then finding one's place and fulfillment in the Universe. In addition, the diversity deeply entrenched within The Seas' work make their songs feel as if they were much shorter than they actually are. Four or six minutes pass by so quickly that listeners, captivated by the sound, may take a while to realize that another song is already on. If you've enjoyed the band’s first album (A Separation) or if you love Tool and similar bands but are looking for something fresher, make sure you buy Give Up The Ghost and support the band.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, September 29th, 2015. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)

Interview with The Seas





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