Ships in the Night:Latent Powers:Album Review

Comforting electronic beats direct a ship of dreamy synths through the night in a way that convinces me I’ll live to see the sun again. I found ‘Latent Powers’ by Ships in the Night on a whim. Random scrolling on social media brought me to a record label that tends to deliver material I enjoy, and Cleopatra Records is one of those hubs. I saw a post, and followed my typical streaming routes to a record that’s been on repeat since it’s release. 

Every song offers the kind of quality promised on the official twitter account:music to cry and/or dance to. Medium tempos run the gauntlet of ten tracks, stimulating an atmosphere of blacklight, mist, and a lonely dance. It feels like a singular journey through a story of love and loss that you can apply to whatever narrative you want to give to these wonderfully delivered lyrics. The first three tracks that open the record are my favorite. ‘First Light’ breaks the ice with my heart and piqued my curiosity for more, as I felt something familiar in this new song. ‘When I Was Found’ and ‘Lost Times’ continued the trend of breaking my heart with each line, as the songwriting hits close to home with my own personal troubles. ‘The Fire’ utilizes a pulsating bass line that carries the song in a way that almost deviates from the dark wave sound and borders on what I’d call industrial, without abandoning the overall sound of the record. ‘It Goes Down’ offers an atmospheric tour of sorrow that builds a wall of sound off of pure minimalism, an impressive feat of audio production. The Echo & the Bunnymen cover of ‘The Killing Moon’ caught me off guard in the best kind of way. It edges on the conclusion of the record and once the chorus triggers that nostalgic reaction, a lovely reworking that stays true to the original captivates me. 

‘Latent Powers’ by Ships in the Night is a lovely dark wave record that deserves attention. For fans of Switchblade Symphony, Crying Vessel, or the new Halsey album, give this record a spin.

Skold delivers with ‘Dies Irae’

After 2019’s industrial release ‘Never is Now’ the 2020 release of the “Not My God” record with Nero Bellum, it comes as no surprise that the new Skold solo record would incorporate a healthy dose of metal guitar riffs and intricate leads. ‘Dies Irae’ is broken up in a back-and-forth pattern of guitar centric rock/metal tracks juxtaposed with the trademark heavy electronic/industrial sound I’ve come to expect from more current projects from Tim Skold. This parallel mixing of musical styles keeps the record moving in such a way as to never feel stagnant. The constant change up results in a refreshing album. While it may be the honeymoon period talking, I’m confident in feeling that ‘Dies Irae’ is my favorite Skold record yet.

The album opens with hard hitting ‘Dirty Horizon.’ This track has crisp sounding guitars that sound both contemporary, yet familiar in a nostalgic way. A scathing chorus hooked me, and I knew I was in for something fun. The guitar solo is a solid tell of things to come, and sets the tone for more metal aggression. That expectation is subverted when the second song starts up. ‘Unspoken’ breaks the ice with some of the more electronic elements I had expected. There’s a guitar solo in this one that shows off the best of Skold’s vast talent, which shouldn’t surprise me at this point, but it’s so good.

My favorite track is ‘Love is a Disease.’ There’s drum programming in the chorus that has this haphazard hi-hat pattern that is percussive icing that coats a bigger wall sound. The lyrical part of the chorus hits in a way that has lost zero impact after multiple listens. It feels like a confession, and I’m here for that kind of honesty. Another authentic confession is offered up in the atmospheric song ‘Terrified’ where Skold sings, “I’m not afraid of dying…I’m fucking terrified.”

Another track with intricate electronic drum programming is ‘Silicon Dreams.’ It’s made clear that Skold isn’t comfortable falling back on old habits when producing new material. The rhythmic work on this track reflects the coexisting grit and shine of trap music with hopeless undertones, and sparse guitar work that makes use of dynamic range.

The album ends with ‘Goodbye.’ This leans more toward elements of a metal track, and was released early as the album’s teaser. It rings as a highlight for me, as this final track was the first one I heard. It gave a good impression regarding the direction of the album, without revealing all of the tricks Skold deals out over the course of this record. This effort feels like one cohesive work, while showcasing an impressive variety and range Tim Skold brings to the table.