This record was made during the winter lockdown and is inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s famous “Ratiocinations” detective stories. All music written, recorded and mixed by Sepulchre by the Sea. Released Friday 1 October 2021.
There is a thinness and fragility to the production of this EP that immediately makes it stand out. I don’t mean that in a pejorative sense—it matches perfectly the dark, gothic feel of the record, although I do feel in places that it loses something of the power of the guitars and drums, feint echoes of what could have been—ghosts of the departed, perhaps?
Which brings me to the opening song, “Ghost of the departed” (track 1) which rises from an atmospheric keyboard pad and the plink-plonk of a … actually, I can’t quite work out what instrument this is. It sounds like something from one of the Rockabye Baby! Lullaby records. It’s not long before a more traditional black metal guitar, bass and drums strikes up and sweeps it away with a vigorous riff and throaty vocals. The song has a long playout riffing around a beautiful and playful melody and female, spoken French vocals.
“Beast made flesh” (track 2) opens with crowd noise from which emerges a thrashing chord progression and barked vocals that in places feels like it’s balancing on the edge of chaos. The post chorus chuggity-chug section sounds great, it’s just a shame that it sounds like it’s being played in the next room. The impact is somewhat diluted. The songs ends with a nice, long “aaarrrrgggghhh!” approach to song lyrics.
The guitar swells that introduce EP closer “Ratiocinations” (track 3) are a welcome change of pace, joined shortly by a heavily reverbed single-note melody. It is all a misdirection for the blast-beat carnage and shouted vocals horror that comes next. There is a lamentful bleakness to this song. Around halfway, the song grinds to a halt only to gradually rebuild around a bouncing bass and gentle guitar melody that quickens and returns an almost triumphant conclusion. For that journey alone, this is probably my favourite track of the three.
Ashley Shannon, the artist behind Sepulchre by the Sea describes his project as a “one man atmospheric black metal project inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe.”
There is something wonderfully artistic about this release. A three-act play, three stories within an overarching narrative, leading to a jubilant and almost joyful conclusion.
Review score: 70%
Ashley Shannon contacted me in September 2021 asking me to review his then forthcoming EP which I was delighted about. Life events prevented me from reviewing this until now. I have no connections to the artist. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool. Many thanks to Ashley Shannon and Edgar Allan Poe.