Album Review: The Black Ships- Dead Empires

Review by Dakota Nelson

RIYL: Black Kites, Then Comes Silence, Robert Smith

Recommended Tracks:

Track 1- “Dead Empires”

Track 5- “Nuovo”

Grade: B-

The Black Ships are a four piece shoegaze/garage rock outfit from local Saratoga, NY. Named after the American ships that landed on Japan after its long isolation period, The Black Ships are a wind of change themselves.

Dead Empires is the second release by The Black Ships, and they did not fall into the proverbial sophomore slump. The album starts off without missing a single beat, starting off with an energetic shoegaze track. The Black Ships use this energy throughout the rest of the album. Unlike most shoegaze albums, the bass is one of the main components.

The bassist will start with an upbeat and catchy hook while the synthesizers come in and set an almost dreamy atmosphere, and The Black Ships use this to their advantage. On Track 4 “When the Rain Falls” they go into full shoegaze mode and almost completely bury the lyrics in synths and distorted guitars, all the while creating a dark but inviting atmosphere.

However, not all the tracks are slow, dreamy songs. Tracks 3 and 6, “Sea of Cortez” and “Sarin” respectively, pick up the pace and make it irresistible to bob your head. While these tracks are different from their atmospheric counterparts, the album still feels concise as a whole. Usually artists will put their softer songs towards the end of the album. While there is nothing wrong with that, Dead Empires does the opposite.

Like running a marathon, the album starts off with a burst of energy and then slowly gets fatigued. Then it sees the finish line and puts in 100% to give one last energetic track. Dead Empires could also be described as a mosaic. Some of its influences are very prominent while others are not quite so. Either way, if you like your music a little dark with some synths and heavy bass thrown in, then this album is for you.


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