Between the Wars - Death and the Sea (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Between the Wars

Death and the Sea (2007)

Think Fast!

Fans of the unique, metallic hardcore punk to be found on Between the Wars' Less We Believe EP shouldn't be terribly disappointed with their first full-length, Death and the Sea, but hopefully they'll be wary of the changes. Initial listens seem to reveal little difference between the two, but there are plenty of improvements and progressions heard upon repeat spins that help to mark Death and the Sea as a definite improvement on its predecessor.

Between the Wars still feature the angry, high-pitched, raspy yell of Ensign's Tim Shaw and the intricate, metal-influenced riffs from Bill Henderson, an early guitarist for Thursday. Combined, the two help put forth a sound that's, at times, sort of like the middle ground between Rise Against and Snapcase, if there was one to be found. The band throw in a boatload of tempo changes, as well as complex leads that help Death and the Sea sound more like an early `90s release than standard youth-crew revival. "Death" even closes with dueling, straight-up metal riffs that avoid sounding out of place due to the already metallic tint set in place throughout the album's course.

While Death and the Sea is very solid front to back, a lot of the standouts come right in its midsection. The militantly anti-authoritarian "For Nothing" tears off some serious soloing in its early goings before Shaw chimes in with a wild, punctual vocal flow along with pumping riffs. "No Obligation," about the misgivings and forgiving of children's thoughts, crushes the listener with a pretty pulverizing breakdown, while the band pick it up quickly with an active, energetic tempo in much of the next track, "Beneath the Dead Sky." Stop-start instrumentation makes for a dynamic, attention-grabbing piece in "The Last Drop." But there's also great moments later on, like the groove-oriented "Clenched Fist" and the bold "Cold War" with some of the most insane riffing you'll hear all album.

Death and the Sea strikes a perfect balance -- much of it should please fans of either alum (at least, Ensign fans and fans of Thursday during Henderson's stint that is), but it certainly sounds different enough to understand why its members stepped out of their respective outfits (Henderson also plays in the Procedure and X One Way X) to create this. As a project consisting of some rather busy lads, Between the Wars may not even live out to see the reality of its own namesake, but they've certainly marked their territory with Death and the Sea.

For Nothing
The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing