The Black Atlantic - Send This Home (Cover Artwork)

The Black Atlantic

Send This Home (2007)

Five Point

While it may not be surprising that the Black Atlantic features ex-Shai Hulud vocalist Geert Van Der Velde, thanks to that band's seemingly endless former members list, what is surprising is that the Black Atlantic shares absolutely no musical connections to Shai Hulud or hardcore in general. Instead, the Black Atlantic blend Americana's balladry with some clanging, clean-guitar rock. It's not a sound that is always profoundly exciting (see "A Letter in Sonics (Send this Home)"), but for a debut EP, Send This Home is strong and detailed.

Opener "Moving Through a Crowd" is a fantastic song full of fervent drive and a strongly melodic approach. A constantly aggressive beat, powerful bass, and jangly guitars create a sound similar to that of Attack in Black, while Van Der Velde's voice is clear and commanding. At first it seems like the only element this song is missing is a breakout chorus or clear sing-along appeal, but then, at about two and half minutes in, a building outro that repeats the phrase, "I wonder if I could turn right back / Pick up the seeds along my track," comes pouring out and "Moving Through a Crowd" morphs from charming rocker to throttling anthem.

While utilizing "Moving Through a Crowd" as an attention-grabbing opener was a clever tactic, it makes the remaining three songs -- which never achieve the same sort of zeal or palpable excitement -- seem even more morose than they actually are. As a result, Send This Home is a release whose disposition is on a downward slope. It's like winning the lottery and then learning your dog has died, your house has caught on fire, and someone has stolen your car. You want to let your eyes fill with dollar signs, but it's a bit difficult with the weight of the other three mishaps hanging so heavy on you. Still, all sequencing bullshit aside, "To Give Up the Summit" and obligatory closing slow-jam "The Good Forecast" are well-composed mini-epics that touch on everything from Left and Leaving-era Weakerthans to Clarity-era Jimmy Eat World. Good songs? Yes. What you want to hear after the foot-stomping of "Moving Through a Crowd"? Not necessarily.

As I've already mentioned, this is a promising debut, one that shows a group that has already found their voice. A full-length seems like it could make or break this band, however, because, while their slowly-paced ballads aren't able to be classified as "disappointing," I honestly just want to hear more songs like "Moving Through a Crowd."