The Black Sea – S/T EP

The Black Sea is an excellent little project brought to you by singer/guitarist Shelby Cinca and drummer Jason Hamacher of the now defunct Frodus and bassist Joe Lally of Fugazi. What started out as a project involving MP3s sent between members has developed into a full-time band, with Engine Down bassist Jason Wood filling in for Lally when he is busy with Fugazi. With a lineup like this, it would be tough to go wrong, and the songs here feel very right.
This may only be a three-song teaser for the full-length album expected to be released in spring of this new year, but don’t let the limited amount of content fool you. More ground is covered by these three men within these three songs than most bands are able to cover over the duration of a much lengthier album. “Ghost Lanterns” opens in truly rocking fashion, and if you enjoy the sound of Lovitt and Dischord bands like Engine Down, Fugazi, Bats & Mice, and so on, this opening track will have your ears perking up in no time at all. The guitars screech out more in this song than they do for the remainder of the disc, and the rhythms are at their most aggressive. “Landscapes” is equally driving, but in a far eerier fashion. It is here that the focus is most obviously placed on the propulsive beats of the rhythm section, as the throbbing basslines and pounding toms heftily support the cutting and haunting guitar work, while the vocals are sparse and wandering. “Wingless Fire” takes yet another turn as a windy acoustic-based number that drifts along like someone lost in a boat at sea, not knowing whether to cry for help or just sit back and enjoy the solitude.
These three songs paint a picture quite similar to the one created by the band name or the artwork that adorns the album cover. It is a listening experience that is dark and brooding, yet warm and inviting at the same time. The textures are deeply woven, yet not in the increasingly popular form of electronics and effects. The instruments and the songs they create are churning like a sea on the brink of a storm, but they are not yet thrashing and out of control. Truly impressive.