You know those artists who are so good, you want to shout out their name for the world to hear? Well, Attalus is one of those bands.
I discovered the band back in 2013 when I stumbled upon their debut record, Post Tenebras Lux, on Noisetrade, and after falling in love with that album, they’ve been a band in the forefront of my artists to watch. Now with their newest record, Into the Sea, they’ve been cemented as, not only a great band, but one of my very favourites. Now, let me take you on a journey through their newest record. Are you ready to dive in with me?
To begin, I’ll acknowledge the sheer size of this album. Six-teen tracks amounting to close to eighty minutes, that’s an incredible feat for any musician. This could pose a potential problem, or it could be a massive high point, depending on how you look at it. For myself, it’s one of the reasons this is such a great album, for others, it may be a little draining. We live in a world where the 3-minute pop song rules, so the decision to create such an epic sized album is extremely brave, and it earns two thumbs up from me.
This album is foremost a concept album. It’s about a man’s journey on the sea, however after he boards the boat in the intro “The Ancient Mariner,” brilliantly filled with sounds of sea gulls and sails being hoisted, we’re hit in the face with a massive storm. The result is the first song, “The Ship is Going Down.” The ship in this case is the world, the ocean God the Father, and the lead vocalist, Seth Davey, brings an urgent call to, Take my word, don’t swallow their lies, the door is open tonight. However, we tell ourselves that we’ll be safe inside.
This call continues in the song, “Sirens.” Those in the ship are telling our protagonist to stay behind because, I got everything you need. But our Christian is calling out to the man to, Don’t get their song stuck in your head, don’t let them lure you into bed…. you’ll wind up dead! Musically it’s perfect. The calming intro, the thundering guitars, the urgent screams, that haunting piano. Just hear it….
I could honestly go on and on about the concept of this record. It all plays out like a well-written novel. There’s just so much here that I’ll settle on highlighting my favourites.
“Desolate Isle,” while beginning musically softer, leaves a massive impact by its end. Most of that impact comes from the incredibly convicting message it brings. Are we so righteous that grace doesn’t have any worth? are we so enlightened that we can build heaven on earth? no.
“Step Out” is a simple, yet passionate call from Christ to take Peter’s place and step out on the water, towards His arms. What I adore about this song is the harkening back to their previous song, “Shadow of Doubt,” with the line God be my shepherd, please draw me close to your side. This time Christ calls in between the cries of our man stepping into the ocean, Father I’m scared, God don’t let me drown in the tide (My child don’t fear – I’ll be here even in the night).
“Albatross” walks in with a heartbreaking intro of distant screams of our protagonist crying out in fear as he’s drowning in the sea. The sea of his sin and failures. I killed an albatross and i can’t seem to get it off my chest. The chains. the weight. the sentence. I’ve paid my penance but this ship is still such a mess (I believe the albatross here is a metaphor for our righteousness and purity). However, again our savior calls in one of my favourite moments on the entire album, O man it doesn’t make sense, why you think you can earn back your innocence. You’re so caught up in the work, washing the blood from your shirt, you’re too busy to repent…. Wash your sins in the Tide flowing out of My side…. I’ll wear your guilt, your cross, your hell. I’ll wear your albatross as well, as soon as you realize you can’t save yourself. These moments that display Christ’s unrelenting love and grace are prominent in most of the record. It has brought me to my knees multiple times.
In “The Breath Before the Plunge,” our protagonist now realizes he can’t save himself and is ready to step out into the sea. However, all those who were calling out to him in “Sirens” have now turned against him, sending him to his execution by throwing him off the boat and rejecting him. This is where the concept of this record began to take an amazing twist, at least from how I saw it. All those on the boat believe they are their own god, they steer the boat, and they believe they can save themselves from the ship’s coming doom (the Christian called this out in “Desolate Isle”) and when we realize we’re not capable of saving ourselves, all those who believe otherwise will turn against us. But instead of trying to defend himself, our protagonist ponders, It isn’t just. no it isn’t just. but why should i contend? They’re not my judge. no they’re not my judge, so i am not condemned. The screamed/spoken verses and that infectious chorus marks a definite highlight.
The second half of the record deals with our protagonist’s journey in the sea. On the title track, he knows the sea will be the death of him, but he desires to be drowned in its flow anyway because Jesus is there at his side. The Christian life is scary and it will definitely end us, however our lives are replaced by Christ’s, and we now live completely clean and purified in Him. The work is finished, we can’t add a thing. We become dead to the world around us when we hit that ocean. The world has lost its gravity, I feel its pull no more. “O the Depths” makes the listener feel like he’s being washed in the sea with our protagonist (at least that’s what it made me feel). It’s just so well done. O, the depths of mercy, it has no bounds! In “Voices from the Shore,” our protagonist hears the voices of those on the ship still struggling with their temptations. Encounters of past lovers and The night I lost my innocence haunt him. Even then, Christ calls out, Come here to me and I’ll give you rest…. your sin is lying in the grave…. they have no power in this place. Take heart, take heart, you’re in my arms, we’re walking on a Sea of Grace. In “Death be not Proud,” our new Christian laughs in the face of death and the voices of sin, saying, The only thing you’ll ever hold is dust and ash, death be not proud of that…. thanks be to God your walls are just an open door. It’s amazing that even our fallen nature was part of God’s plan to live completely and utterly in Him.
The journey ends with our protagonist writing a”Message in a Bottle” to those taking the same voyage of life. He recalls the peace life brings before That unspeakable disaster fell. I’ll let the protagonist speak…. Listen to what i have found, when my world ran aground, grace was still a greater tide, and all that i have left to say to those who’ve lost their way: Grace can even save a shipwrecked life.
Overall, I’m left speechless. This album is so well written, flows so effortlessly, and hits so hard. The concept is brilliant and never wanders off track. The music is sublime and is everything I love in an album. It’s all at once heavy and beautiful. To paint a clearer picture, it’s more along the lines of indie rock than metal as it continually ebbs and flows between intense riffs and gentle notes. Into the Sea will most definitely be my album of the year, or at least in the top three. I highly recommend this record, and Attalus’s debut, which you can still find on Noisetrade. We all have the choice at one point to take the journey, will you let it all go and dive into the sea?