Every once in a while, an album comes along that makes you rethink an entire genre. It's an album that makes you step back and rethink your musical expectations, as well as casting your future thoughts in an entirely new light. City of Ships' newest album, Minor World, is one of these albums. The only issue is that my entire taste for music has been soured by listening to this album.
The album sounds like indie and post-rock had a child, and that child got the exact opposite genes from Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The result is some solidly heavy rock with a layer of atmosphere to it, making it just a bit more dense than your usual rock fare. There is also the occasional harking back to the grunge sound of the 90s, created by an earthy-flavoured guitar tone and raw vocals. And while this all sounds fascinating in theory, the way it's executed is extremely sub-par.
Most of this albums weakness stems from its vocals. While the melodic vocals are absolutely fine, the parts that get closer to screaming tend to be almost amateurish with their grating quality. The opener “Clotidle” features a chorus of quite painful vocals that unfortunately mar an otherwise wonderful piece, and the pieces “Subrosa” and “Low Countries” almost made me want to abort listening to the album a quarter of the way in. It sounds like all of the vocalists for Mastodon got their voices processed together, and then recorded the result next to a blender trying to chop up an uncooked slab of beef, bone and all. While I can stand many types of vocal work, harsh or otherwise, there is something about their quality on this album that is absolutely repulsive.
That's unfortunate, because there are some moments that had the potential to be amazing. The opening track “Clotidle” features some extremely heavy bass work as well as a really moving not-exactly-a-guitar-solo, creating that euphoric sense of buildup that sounds like the style perfected by Isis. “Darkness at Noon” also features some wonderfully ambient guitar writing, creating a largo, almost plodding crescendo that creates the most overwhelming sense of anticipation. As I said before, however, these moments are few and far between, and they don't exactly have enough meritorious weight on their own.
Though it has its moments, Minor World really doesn't deliver much of anything memorable. It's commendable for its stylistic unorthodoxy, but that only goes so far. You can probably skip this one.
2.5 / 10
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