Ambassador are an interesting one, indeed. The five-piece band from Baton Rouge, Louisiana are a dark rock/post punk band, particularly interesting are the post punk aspects as that is a genre that you don’t see much of nowadays for it was at its height in the 80s. The band are set to introduce themselves to the world on the 29th of September, 2018 with their debut album, “Belly of The Whale”, with ten songs, influences like Depeche Mode, Pink Floyd and A Perfect Circle they’ve definitely got me on the edge of my seat in anticipation for this one, so let’s listen.
The first song on the album is called Empress, it starts with a little more rock energy than I was expecting with rock drums and reverberating distortion from the guitars, which not only sound nice but they do well to create an atmosphere. Vocalist Gabe Vicknair provides a captivating vocal performance, it’s got the eerie, harrowing charm of old post punk infused with a raw power that can be found in more modern music. The song is fairly mellow as far as rock songs go, but I feel like energy isn’t the point here, this is a really cool atmospheric introduction.
Ledges follows where Empress left off with long sustained guitar playing that rings out, props to guitarists Jason Ourso and Dustin Borne for some really solid ear candy. Vocally, this song reminds me a lot of Peter Murphy, the charismatic singer of Bauhaus. Next up we have Sea of Galilee, which opens with a beautiful, echoing vibe created by softly played strings and a smooth and steady drumbeat. The chorus hits in with not only a beautifully dark tune with that gravely, theatrical voice but is ushered in with an electric guitar riff. The song raises into big sections and mellows out into softer sections and it all blends so beautifully.
Diorama is a short instrumental filler song that opens with some philosophical lectures playing underneath an instrumental, full of softly pounding drums and gorgeous guitar-work, it swells and builds towards the end and makes you anticipate what is to come. It serves as a kind of long introduction to the next song, and titular song, Belly of The Whale. Coming off of the back of the previous instrumental we get a song that in itself is fairly mellow for a titular song, but it manages to set itself apart from the others as it’s like a roller coaster, going up and down regularly.
Profiteer opens with a deep growling bass, echoing and howling guitar notes over a soft, subtle drum beat. The vocals have an aura of subdued power, as if they were being restrained and struggling to break out and in the second half of the song they absolutely do break out, the song crashes into a song with a strong rock presence and the vocals wail out.
Feral as They Were, began with eerie strumming of an acoustic guitar, giving the album as a whole a new kind of sound. Distorted guitar kicks into gear in tandem with the vocals and delivers a satisfying chorus to the song, to put a cherry on top of a solid song is an equally solid guitar solo.
Return Castaway is yet another different, fresh addition to the album. It’s a softly played, rock ballad with lots of solemn, yet happy tones throughout it, which is bound to instill contested feelings in the listener. Musically this song has a lot to it, beautiful guitar riffs, powerful vocals and a slow build into a climax that actually features well placed screamed background vocals in the peak of the chorus.
Second to last on the album is Whitewash and this song upon immediate reactions seems like a good old-fashioned indie rock song, it’s in the guitar and drums. This song is one of my least favourite. Personally, I just feel like it doesn’t bring as much charm as some of the others do, or that it doesn’t do anything different from what any of the others did. But then, if you are looking for a really relaxed and chilled song separate of the album, this would serve that purpose well I feel. Last song on the album is listed as a bonus track, it’s Shadows and Seams. The song opens with vocals and a sorrowful guitar riff, it breathes a saddened, low mood which does crash into some distortion and throw in some extra energy into the composition. This song works wonderfully as both a harrowing fade-out for the album AND a big bang, final hurrah.
This album is full of potential and as a debut album it’s honestly probably close to a masterpiece level of artwork. It’s got so much light and dark, a raw talent that shines through and very, very solid influences to draw from and blend together. While I do think this album is better listened to as a whole album experience rather than individual songs, I have nothing but praise for this album and congratulate everyone who worked on it.