By Dan Barry
10:20 AM EST, November 15, 2011
Sea of Bones
w/ Howl, Worms in Women and Cattle, Red Blade
Thursday, Nov. 17, Daniel Street, 21 Daniel St., Milford, 8:00pm - 21+ - $10, manicproductions.org
Can you remember the first time you were in an elevator going down? That lurch in your guts, that sensation in your inner ear that something was terribly wrong? Do you ever get caught off guard by a particularly herky-jerky elevator as an adult and remind yourself that no, it's ok, that's just what elevators do? Do you ever second-guess yourself and wonder if maybe this is the time that the whole machine is going to snap loose of the cables and plummet you to your death?
If you take that sensation and stretch it out for about sixteen minutes, that's a pretty good approximation of that the average Sea of Bones song feels like. The New Haven trio writes gargantuan, bowel-scraping paeans to nothingness. With monstrous guitar stacks and slow-churned riffs, they create an atmosphere of doom that gives their genre of metal its distinctive name and feel.
The last couple of years have been relatively quiet ones for Sea of Bones. They experimented with expanding their lineup to a five-piece, but found that the band became too unwieldy at that size. They recorded a new album — two tracks that were each about 25 minutes long, if you can believe that — but shelved it when they parted ways with their additional guitarist. And like many local bands nowadays, they've focused on doing weekend tours outside of the state so as not to oversaturate their hometown with gigs.
So it can be easy to forget how powerful their live show is. One ordinarily doesn't use the word "tight" to describe bands playing low- and mid-tempo songs. Things naturally get imprecise as the metronome slows. But Sea of Bones writes uncharacteristically complex songs in a genre that often plods along repetitively. Their tunes are full of sudden stops and starts, unexpected cues, and slowdowns out of the blue. The songs have tons of lyrics, and all three members sing (well, more like bellow at the top of their lungs). I asked bassist/vocalist Gary Amedy how they remember arrangements that are so sprawling and detailed. "We always practice twice a week," he replied. "Pretty much every Wednesday and Saturday for the past six years, we've been at it."
Amedy is an old-timer in the local music underground. "Seeing Neurosis, Buzzov*en, and Deadguy at The Tune Inn in 1994 was probably the best day of my life," he says. "I almost physically felt pain watching those bands." So a large part of Sea of Bones' mission is to recreate, even for just one evening, the atmosphere that was present in the mid-'90s, when the state's punk, hardcore, and metal scenes all seemed to be simmering in the same giant pot. "We're just hoping to give someone else the experience I had growing up, seeing amazing live bands."
"What do you think changed?" I asked Amedy. "What was different then?"
"I would think it has to do with the places that have shows now," says Amedy. "In my teenage years and early 20s, I was going to The Tune Inn all the time, and it was all ages. The downfall of The Tune Inn was when they opened the bar, and it became a place where kids couldn't go. There's no place for kids to go. And the kids don't care anymore because they can sit in front of the computer and see whatever they want anyway. They have the freedom of the Internet, but they're almost more sheltered. You'd think it'd be a little different, but they're just as controlled by the media, it seems. I thought that's how the television was, but the Internet seems to be almost worse in a way."
If you can't make it to this Thursday's Sea of Bones show in Milford, and you still want a taste of their live show, you should check out the video for their song "Failure of Light," which aired on Chip's Unnamed Local Band Show. Sea of Bones aims to enter the studio sometime in the next month to record the follow-up to their 2007 full-length, The Harvest. In the meantime, you can stream and download The Harvest for free on Bandcamp.
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