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Black Sea
The Black Sea EP
Lovitt Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
So many bands have arisen from the ashes of hardcore. There is always a fine line separating the meek from the powerful in this under world littered with bands who are remnants of other bands with members of yet other bands and influences of still more bands. It's all very incestuous and derivative, but when it works, dammit, it rocks you to the core. And sometimes, even with the very best intentions, chops and pedigrees the fireworks fizzle, and this, unfortunately, is the case with The Black Sea's self-titled debut.

After Frodus broke up way back in 1999, members Shelby Cinca (vocals, guitar) and Jason Hamacher (drums) took time off from other subsequent endeavors to hook up with Joe Lally of Fugazi (bass) to create new music. You would be correct in wondering how in the hell Joe Lally has time to play and with another band, what with that little project called Fugazi that he is so occupied with. To pull it off the three members of the Black Sea have worked out an arrangement to where Joe participates in the band as a songwriter and studio musician, but touring duties are taken up by Engine Down's bassist Jason Wood. The influence of the incestuous thing gets a little clearer now.

We'll have to wait and see how the Black Sea pans out live, as Joe's bass playing is one of the highlights of the album and might prove difficult to clone by Wood. Lally and Hamacher provide a solid rhythm section under the angular guitar playing of Cinca, but the main weakness here are Cinca's vocals, which are, well… weak.

The first track in the trifecta on The Black Sea is "Ghost Lanterns," is a solid, post-punk styled song that rolls along ominously enough under spread out guitar riffs. "Landscapes" plays in the middle, beginning with an echoed chant resonating over tribal drums and bass that thunder in the background. But again Cinca's vocals enter the equation, slightly off key and without the power that the fierce instrumental foundation would make you anticipate. The last song, "Wingless Fire," is something of an experiment amongst the other tracks, an acoustic dirge that floats along in a mist of delay and echo while Shelby Cinca sings in appropriately whispered tones.

This three song EP is not exactly a rousing statement for what is to come with The Black Sea, which is too bad, as their combined previous and current musical endeavors are nothing to shake a stick at. But perhaps The Black Sea is just a test run, and this reviewer will be proven wrong with future installments. And if not, we still have Joe Lally's other band, Fugazi.

Reviewed by Jonah Flicker
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.

See other reviews by Jonah Flicker



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