Released as a limited CD run in mid-2005 - New Roman Twilight was the first formal output from The Arid Sea as a live-playing band. This 3-piece lineup brought with it a stylistic shift that set it apart from earlier releases and carried through until the end in 2009.
Soon following its release, New Roman Twilight received numerous glowing reviews from various music blogs and magazines. Most notable was the following review from legendary goth and punk music journalist, Mick Mercer:
"God forbid I should ever aim to please but I can’t deny that after a weekend of more personal revelations it’s reassuring to get back to the music, and I have something wonderful to tell you about which you should put at the top of your shopping list (and craftily forge onto the top of anyone else’s you can access).
Very cool, very interesting - a subtle blend of gloom and sensitivity brings a superior indie song writing feel into Goth territory, which usually creates something interesting. The playful, teasing drums that burst throughout ‘Life Is Brief, Life Is Long’ are equalled by gently shimmering guitar and succulent shadowy synth to really draw you in, while the ache in the vocals have a pensive quality which means you’re not going to have any egos crashing out spewing preposterous twaddle, although the lyrics rebuff too much investigation. Musically, it rises and glides wonderfully, then some burnished bass weaves through a slower ‘Weighed Against A Feather’ to beef up simpler drums. The guitar creates warmth behind pained vocals and there’s such a classy crump to these drums you know the recording has caught them as close to live as is possible. It bulges with a quiet vitality, close in spirit to someone like Heart’s Fail.
Mini-surges push through the glory of ‘Mercy Killing’ as they summon up their own energy waves, with some brilliantly guitar surfing over passionate but controlled vocals and together they built up to a tight climax that then meets the brightly seeping ‘Ringing’, as a more simple tone overcomes vocal self-recrimination in an almost relaxed setting. Then these lugubrious drums start to stir ‘Passage’ and tingling guitars remain clear and bold while the vocals move frantically from side to side, then soar. ‘The Moon Follows Mercury’ is polite, with beautiful guitar and bass once more offering a neat counteracting influence on circumspect vocal doldrums, and the riveting guitar really does start to staple itself to your head, as together they forge a brackish path which they drag you down, dovetailing neatly into the funereal stamp of ‘Hanging’ but here the song remains open and strolls with real vigour and poise, assuming an almost placid strength, yet with a robust candour. Even when going into slow territory you’re never close to anything drowsy.
‘An Image In The Flames’ is fantastic, as the instruments cautiously build and start to glow, peak then fall back again to a slow end in what is a superbly modest piece, then ‘Closing In’ tickles itself up into a lightly raging up and down pattern, with a gnashing sense of defiant spirit, somewhat thrown sideways by a voiceover and then ending enigmatically, which is understandable. Here we have a band whose main core has worked in isolation for nearly a decade but now has a brilliant band starting to feel their way, and feeling it brilliantly as though they have genetically modified fingers.
Ladies and gentlemen we have a winner. Waving not drowning, but certain in sorrow.
From Isis at Heathen Harvest:
"Deep Blue Recordings brings us the new release by The Arid Sea. After several CDr and compilation appearances the Seattle based band finally presented a long play in the year 2005. It is fresh sounding and surprisingly good, yet has not reaped what they have sown. The Arid Sea remains a largely unknown band and seems to have moved in live acts pretty locally. It is strange, since the promotion work is done: they have appeared in magazines, played with well-known bands and presented an excellent record. Yet they will always have a drawback which I am extremely grateful for. They are too original for the current dark scene. They are not strictly measured by only one style, one look and one, boring and unimpressive monotone aspect. This doesn’t mean that each songs makes no sense with the other – it simply means that they are not slaves to modern musical divisions and have chosen to do what they are motivated by. Their sound is unique, regular, and highly emotional. It draws from early dark pop material, especially in the drum work, and adds a darker quality through guitars and, especially the voice. Out of the 80s influence clearly sewn through their own textures, they choose the mostly UK sound of many bands that have become more of a reference to indie, shoegazers and dream pop than strictly gothic: you can hear a Chameleon’s voice, Echo and the Bunnymen’s modulations, Comsat Angels, And Also the Trees, early Pink Turns Blue… I am sure by their myspace references (the amazing guitar genius of Big Black, many great folk bands, some classics), that The Arid Sea can boast of an excellent music culture.
‘Mercy Killing’ is perhaps one of my favorite songs of the record, with a dense bass line opening an epic drum work song. The construction is full of longing; the voice line is wrapped into the instruments in a simple, overpowering way. It is a perfect mixture of dark rock, post-punk, nihilism & attitude. They call themselves Indie-Post-Punk-Death-Rock-Goth-Folk-Garage-Bat-Cave, but they truly are mostly dark, desperate and sometimes sadly angry rock. With songs like ‘Passage’ and the delicate, guitar line conversing with the bass and surrounded by the crashing percussion you can almost imagine you live your life in a late 80s moment you had thought you’d lost forever. The elements are mostly the same throughout the record: a clear, nostalgic guitar that glides over each song with melancholic notes; a thick bass that many times picks up the spotlight, outstanding drum work and the sensitive vocals, inhabited by strong lyrics and pure emotion. Sometimes a piano appears, moving deeper into a fickle, evocative place. In many songs the instrumentation is so powerful that the voice becomes relegated to a secondary position, sometimes entering the song as a rambler passing by and in others, the melody goes Curesque in a theatrical, torn way.
‘New Roman Twilight’ follows its own path and leaves its own traces. The Arid Sea have an impressive resilience to make their own mark on a music world that is not paying attention to individual talent and is moving, as cattle always in the same direction. More that two years have passed since this record came out; I hope they have not passed in vain. I expect many great things about this subtle, discreet band. ~ Isis"
From Daniel Jones in Drop Dead Magazine #2
"Gorgeous and atmospheric, full of that rambling post-punk spirit that so many early 4AD bands had. 'Life is Brief...Life is Long' starts off the album, with fluttering guitar against a rolling drumbeat. 'Weighed Against a Feather' is more melancholy, and 'Mercy Killing' builds up towers of sound in anticipation of a demolition, only to sink back down again. 'Ringing' is soft and light, full of shoegazing sympathies. 'Passage' is the happiest song on here, with singer Isaac sounding almost triumphant, as if some glorious obstacle had been conquered. 'The Moon Follows Mercury' continues in this vein; though similar in tone to the rest of the album, the veil of melancholia seems ready to lift. But no, 'Hanging' trips us up and sends us spinning back into tearful territory. 'An Image in the Flames' makes us think everything's okay again before 'Closing In' starts to sway and rock us off into the ether, and then snatching us close and rattling our bones a bit. Music for wind-blown evenings and grey, rainy afternoons."
From Crudos in Profane Existence #53
"This album is probably most unlike anything else usually reviewed in this zine. To get the ex-member thing out of the way, The Arid Sea contains Joey Maas on drums of State of the Union, maybe a band more familiar to some here. When I listened to this one, I really felt a gothy overtone to the overall groove of the songs, yet without the usual pretension. Drums that remind me of Rainer Maria, yet darken and gloomy lyrics, shimmering/ringing guitar and strained, searching vocals. This really defies an easy categorization, which is why I felt at a loss for describing The Arid Sea. Something about this CD really sticks to me, in a good way. Some of the standout songs, Life is Brief… Life is Long, Mercy Killing, Hanging, and An Image In The Flames. In an interview, they described themselves as Indie-Post-Punk-Death-Rock-Goth-Folk-Garage-Bat-Cave, which sounds about right to my ears. Definitely a band to keep an eye on, they have something quite special here and it’ll be interesting to see where this road leads.
released July 1, 2005
Joseph Maas - Drums
Michael Guillory - Bass
Isaac Aubrey - Guitar/Vocals
Drum recording engineered by Russ Vanover
Produced by The Arid Sea
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