Review: Sea of Storms – ‘Dead Weight’

by Jake Kussmaul

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On Tuesday, Richmond, Virginia post-hardcore trio Sea of Storms
released their debut album Dead Weight. This was my introduction to the band,
as well as the first time in a while that I’d listened to a new album. As the
follow-up to their eponymous 2012 seven inch, not only is there a dramatic
sonic improvement, but also the inclusion of a concept. All three tracks from
the seven inch have been re-recorded and have been integrated nicely within the
album.  Yes, the nearly three-year gap
was worth it.

From my understanding, Dead Weight deals with the
abandonment of one’s wholesome nature with subsequent feelings of hopelessness.
Vocalist Brandon Peck’s lyrical abilities evoke a sense of genuine
disenchantment. However, I’m certain that the focus of these songs is on a fictional
antihero type, rather than on the singer himself, given the supernatural
imagery in the lyrics. Even so, I can empathize with his struggle. The
placement of the words ‘ghost’ and ‘dead’ in certain songs is also done subtly
and smartly, and the music does its part in bringing this concept to life.

The album kicks off with “Belly Full of Bones,” originally
from the band’s self-titled seven inch. When that first verse starts, you know
you’re in for some top-notch, pulsating emotive hardcore. The guitars and drums
sound noticeably better, thanks to a more competent production effort. In fact,
the same can be said about the other two songs from the seven inch. The lead
guitar during the instrumental break in “Snake Oil” is more prominent and
manages to make that portion a lot more enjoyable. I feel that “Exit Strategy”
received the best treatment out of all three songs, taking on a whole new
grunge-laden energy. It is my personal favorite, and it encapsulates the ethos
of erstwhile bands that left their mark during the early-to-mid 90s
alterna-boom.

I was pleased with the new tracks Sea of Storms had written
for the album. The title track contains a memorable main riff, driving bass
line and straightforward lyrics. Interestingly, it has great potential to be a
radio single, and that’s not a bad thing by any means.  I just wish the music industry was generally
more accepting of heavier music styles, especially in this day and age. I hope
the band decides to do something with this song as it definitely sounds like a
hit waiting to happen. The latter part of the album is where the band makes a
decent attempt at expanding their horizons. I particularly enjoyed the singer’s
voice in the bridge of “Crimson Tide.” His faint and somber tone blends perfectly
with the mellowness of the chorus melody, as he sings “In the morning, they
caressed our weary heads/In the afternoon, they cleanse with the dead.” “Weak
Ones” is the longest track, and contains the remaining instance of hopelessness.
The breaks between the verses feature clean, reverberated guitars on top of
militant snare rolls, which is an ambitious fusion of sounds. The final song,
“Cedar Run” is in a distinctly major key, implying that the antihero is now content
after recognizing the error of his ways. It then shifts to a mid-tempo and goes
all out, with possibly the greatest blend of heaviness and melody I’ve ever
experienced—a perfect end to a solid album.

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