ALBUM REVIEW: Building an instrumental Empire

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First Posted: 9/30/2013

“Ghosts Everywhere,” the new album from Wilkes-Barre post-rock foursome Empire of the Sea, is aptly named. Not only is it ethereal and otherworldly, it’s truly immersive. Spectral tendrils of metallic shoegaze blossom out of your speakers like ectoplasm from a medium’s mouth and wrap themselves around you, blocking out everything else.

Par for the course for EOTS. The band came out of the womb almost fully formed with 2010’s “Fathoms,” drowning audiences in cosmic atmosphere tempered with roaring violence. The only minor modification came when EOTS followed that up with the 2012 EP “Skywatchers.” Instead of roaring, EOTS started soaring, ditching vocals entirely in favor of pushing the music itself to greater heights.

In any case, this is a band that started out strong and has only gotten better. Those weaned on mainstream radio rock might not be able to gel with the band’s fully instrumental approach, but for those in love with the pioneering post-metal of Pelican or the cerebral symphonies of Explosions in the Sky, EOTS provides similar head-tripping transcendentalism.

Based on evolving cycles of sound, the five tracks on “Ghosts Everywhere” (all but one of which are named after the four winds, the last sharing its title with the album) progress gradually, introducing new elements with each repetition, until the final result is something very different from its modest beginnings.

The subaqueous and soulful guitar work sends ripples through the waters of reality while aggressive, nonstop drumming crashes authoritatively. It propels the sonic narrative forward and keeps the writhing strands of moody ambience from breaking off into meandering tangents. The result is not music as emotional expression, but as raw emotion itself. Like emotion, it’s something that can be felt very specifically, but is vague or obscure enough to defy verbalization.

In short, EOTS proves once again that great music is its own voice.

Empire of the Sea ‘Ghosts Everywhere’ Rating: W W W W V