City of Ships

City of Ships

City of Ships

Live Free of Don’t Tour


City of Ships are two contradictory bands wound up in one, and so it’s fitting that this most recent release, Live Free of Don’t Tour, is actually two separate studio efforts combined as one full length album. Side A of this vinyl only release (you heard me right — vinyl only!) was previously sold by the band on their 2008 tour and titled appropriately Tour EP. Side B was put out by Forcefield Records as Live Free or Don’t. Played one right after another, the two halves show a group unsure of what kind of band they want to be.

Let’s break it down:

Side A finds this transient band — who currently call Richmond, Virginia home — engulfed in a feedback frenzy. The guitars are sludgy, the bass evil, and the drums insistent in an ear hugging way that imprisons the melodically screamed vocals inside of a rusty cage of heavy metal. They’re at their best when the vocals and music section battle it out for top billing, as on “Critical Vulture.”

Side B plays cleaner, and shows a more progressively attuned side of the band. There are quieter moments, often accompanied with a more melodic method of singing from vocalist Eric Jernigan, and less urgency than was just delivered on Side A. At times they almost remind me of a rougher-edged 30 Seconds to Mars — and I’m pretty sure that this was not the band’s intent. This aspect of the band is not without its moments of note. Ending things on a high note, the record closes out with “Time Flies” — a song that best combines the trio’s fighting halves.

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