City of Ships - Look What God Did to Us (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

City of Ships

Look What God Did to Us (2009)

Translation Loss

Less than a year after the astounding collection Live Free or Don't Tour, City of Ships return with their first proper full-length, Look What God Did to Us, a sprawling effort that sees the band realizing their full potential, crafting 10 tracks that make up a cohesive narrative and an altogether excitingly fresh take on a brand of brooding post-rock that anyone with a closet full of black t-shirts can appreciate.

Having a strong opening track is essential in these times of shorter-than-ever attention spans, and "Wraiths in Flight" succeeds accordingly, encapsulating nearly all of the awesome facets that make City of Ships the beast that they are. The dichotomy of distant, echo-y vocals in the verses and massively throaty yells in the choruses, grouped with gargantuan guitar riffs and impressively dynamic drumming, make it the defining song of the record.

While some might say it's all downhill from there, the descent on Look What God Did to Us is hardly abrupt. Maximum heaviness is achieved on tracks such as "Complacence in the Nest," "Grand Contour" and "The Star in the Past," and the riffs are always engaging and never cheesy. Progressive, angular soloing and unassumingly busy percussion accompany and accentuate the positively haunting "Praise Feeder," while the excellent "Welcome to Earth" features the unlikely combination of ambient guitar parts and soaring growls, both courtesy of band frontman Eric Jernigan.

City of Ships slow things down a touch on "Silver Anniversary," opting to ditch the wall of sound in favor of large amounts of raw, empty space to create tension. It's the classic slow build, something we've all heard before, but highly effective when it's done correctly. Subtle guitar effects, along with Jernigan's throaty croon over the noise, keep it interesting throughout.

The density and breadth of Look What God Did to Us may cause more impatient ears to tune out, but those virtuous individuals who are willing to give records plenty of time to sink in will end up satisfied. City of Ships continue to impress, and it'll be interesting to see where they go from here.

Look What God Did to Us was released on vinyl by Sound Study Recordings, as well.