Hardcore is a genre in which it is really difficult for a band to distinguish itself. You have be heavy, you have to be fast, you have to be agressive. There aren’t that many ways to break that mold and stand out, musically or philosophically. Nonetheless, All Ships at Sea is a young hardcore band from Middletown, CT that is struggling to do just that.
All Ships at Sea have four songs up on their page (two of them downloadable). All fit the hardcore mold, being downtuned and angry with growling vocals. Yet they also break the songs up with some slower parts, some more melodic parts and some attempts to be more technical. The recordings are raw and the ideas seem to still be forming, but they do seem somewhat fresh and could develop into a sound that sets them apart. Philosophically, they aren’t necessarily breaking new ground, but they could as they develop. Christian hardcore isn’t new territory and most of those bands can be pretty overbearing. Because hardcore lyrics are so difficult to discern, I can’t tell if All Ships at Sea fall into this trap. I’m a churchgoer myself, but I prefer to be shown the path of righteousness (no matter what the religion), not told it. I hope All Ships at Sea tend more toward showing than telling.
They have four songs up on Myspace. “Plagued by Visions of Confederate Horsemen” is the kind of title that certainly piques my interest. Unfortunately, it’s a fairly standard piece that stays within the hardcore box. It does have decent raw energy, but could benefit from a tightening up of their sound. “Invocation and Doxology” does a better job with pace changes and the result is a more interesting song without any decrease in the band’s punch. “Darling Hollywood…” shows potential for the band to get a bit more technical and also breaks out some of their best straightforward writing. The more technical parts include some stuttering rhythms that work very well and contrast nicely with some of the more basic punk parts. Everything isn’t quite in place, but this track shows the most potential. Their final song, “Kids Play With,” is another step forward in both production and playing. They seem to have developed a feel for the power of pauses, but not full mastery of it.
All Ships at Sea are not a great hardcore band yet, but they show some promise to develop into something special in the sea of typical. It looks like they’ll be coming to Baltimore on June 26 and I’d like to catch them. Maybe I’ll be able to say, “I saw them when…” or maybe not. Time will tell, but they’re still young and time is on their side.