The End of the Ocean – In Excelsis [EP] – 97%

In Excelsis cover art

If you weren’t aware the post-rock hotbed for America can be found in Columbus, OH. Not only is Columbus home to some guy named Ben Sharp (Cloudkicker), it’s also home to The End of the Ocean. The End of the Ocean are quite unlike any other post-rock band you’ve ever heard. Not because they feature 2 female band members, but because their sound is so unique and well crafted that it’s just impossible to forget their songs. In a genre that is filled with Explosions in the Sky imitators, The End of the Ocean has consistently reinvented their sound with each of their three releases. From the humble beginnings of “Calm Seas Don’t Make Sailors” which was a more ambient record to their 2011 gem “Pacific.Atlantic” which saw the band break out of their shell and showcase a fully developed sound and style, we are now presented with their latest effort, “In Excelsis.” Clocking in at only 23 minutes, it would be unfair to consider this 4-track release an album so I will be reviewing it as an EP.

“On Floating” opens the album and is a brilliant slow burn build up track that consistently increases in pace and loudness. Guitars chug along as a thick low-pitched keyboard note fills the background with wonderful bassiness (is that¬† word? I don’t care, I’m using it!). “Star-Crossed” is up next and easily rivals “Maybe for the Better” as my favorite End of the Ocean song. Despite a very heavy opening the track mellows down quickly and plays host to the best guitar work on the EP. The bass in this track is far separated from the wailing guitar within the mix which leads to an absolutely phenomenal and spacious sound stage. This track is the epitome of “getting it right” when it comes to post-rock because everything just clicks.

“Like Honey from the Branch” is a huge track that takes you by surprise with its post-metal-esque opening. The drums in this track are predominantly featured and are airy and open sounding and they compliment that static-laced guitar work quite well. The EP wraps up with “All That is Will Cease”, an upbeat track with a faster pace than the rest of the album. Again the guitar work on this track is simply aces as it has been with most of the album.¬† In trying to find any sort of fault whatsoever with this album, I quickly realized that I would be grasping at straws because there are simply no flaws to be found in any of the four tracks.

Perhaps I’m a little bit bias because they’ve been one of my favorite bands for the last year and because I was fortunate enough to see them perform some of these tracks live, but I do think that this EP raises the bar to a new level for releases this year. The production values are better than some albums I’ve reviewed this year and the effort and craftsmanship in the music can’t be overlooked.. You simply don’t find EP’s this solid that often. Generally I expect an EP to have 1 or 2 great tracks and the rest filler or songs the band highly experimented with, but these four tracks are just as good if not better than the ones found on Pacific.Atlantic. If these guys are playing anywhere within an earshot of you, you should do your best to not miss them because their live performance is really something magical, and so is this EP. This is a must listen to EP of 2012. 7-13-12

$5 well spent at http://theendoftheocean.bandcamp.com/album/in-excelsis