REVIEW: Triumph Over Shipwreck – Forever. Ending. [2014]


Artist: Triumph Over Shipwreck

Album: Forever. Ending.


Ever heard the term “open a can of whoop-ass”? Well, if you have, maybe you’ve pondered the same thing I have—how does one truly contain whoop-ass? What is it like to confine that raw energy and intense fury into a feeble aluminum can? Perhaps—if you’ve wondered the same thing as I have—you should ask the gentlemen in Texan terrorizers Triumph Over Shipwreck. Their sound—exemplified on their latest album Forever. Ending.—is controlled, metered insanity. Rigid, carefully composed riffs melt under intense Texan heat and drown in ice-cold whiskey and stale, room-temperature beer to provide the same frantic, furious energy your favorite early-2000’s mathcore bands had with a low-down-and-dirty metalcore twist that will have you yellin’ yee-haw and begging for more.

Triumph Over Shipwreck define their surreal soundscape of structured insanity with instrumental fury and almost-sloppy technical musicianship. Throughout “Firestarter” and obviously during the tongue-in-cheek “F.U.N. (Fast, Ugly, Nasty),” guitarist Urk Vazquez leads the charge with pure dissonance. Riff-heavy sections of shred turn inwards on themselves, collapsing under their own metallic weight to segue into chugged-out, screechy and oddly-timed breakdowns that feel as if the listener’s skin is being peeled off with each piercing squeal. Right beside Vasquez is bassist Miguel Apodaca—sludging along with low, filthy and pounding riffs that add extra oomph to Vazquez’s bizarre, bewildering fretwork. Both of these instrumental elements would roam free, untethered to any form of firmament—were it not for the frantic, hard-hitting percussion of Joseph James, whose intense, energetic drumming drives each riff into the listener’s skull like a hammer pounding a nail. This is especially true during the over-ambient portions of “Heavy Burden,” where doom-and-gloom, sludge-metal style fretwork is kept anchored to the listener’s corpse by the lethal, precise percussion James brings to the table.

As Vazquez and Apodaca wage furiously fretted wars over the rolling hills and jagged crags of James’ perfunctory percussion, vocalist Larry Gonzales hits home. Perfectly wielding a rough, throat-rending roar that sears the listener’s eardrums into muck, Gonzales adds an extra dimension of no-bullshit grime and grit to Triumph Over Shipwreck’s terrifying instrumental dynamic. Forever. Ending. Is vocally demanding and lyrically dense, but not lopsided—as the vocals work brilliantly with the musicianship behind them to create a unilaterally marvelous experience; even on brief, blitzkreiging tracks like “Blackout,” or the overture-like, immense epic (even at less than three minutes) “Eternal Sleep.” Gonzales is diverse enough to provide screeching highs and guttural lows, but consistently brilliant with his gruff, mid-range shout that the few variations he takes are purely stylistic—not forced or done to avoid monotony. Where Gonzales strays from his mid-range shout, it’s for the listener’s edification, enlightening them that Triumph Over Shipwreck are indeed about to split the listener’s skull wide open.

The result of Triumph Over Shipwreck’s tedious, mathy-yet-metallic instrumentation and chaotic, intense and direct vocal effort is something like listening to a shipwreck. Have you ever driven by a horrific car crash and—mortified—been unable to look away? That is what Forever. Ending. Feels like. The deeper the listener gets into the release, the more absurd and chaotic it gets—the boundaries between careful song structure and sheer lack of compassion for the listener’s auditory canals begins to blur until it is no more. By the time the listener reaches “F.U.N.” or “Eternal Sleep,” they are beyond all hope—as Triumph Over Shipwreck have split their ears open with intense drumming and stolen their sanity with precise, careful (or is it care-free?) fretwork; replacing it with the deranged, dynamic shouts of Gonzales. By the time Forever. Ending. Has run its course and the ride is over, the listener doesn’t really know anything anymore—except that they want to ride the hellacious rollercoaster that the Texan quartet provide once more.

Pressing “play” on Forever. Ending. Is like letting a tornado funnel itself inside your head. It’s like listening to Duck Duck Goose or HeavyHeavyLowLow after they’ve spent a couple years growing up in the Texan heat and drinking a little too much tequila. Even better—it’s like listening to a band make a dynamic, diverse beauty out of a disastrous shipwreck.



For Fans Of: Norma Jean, Duck Duck Goose, Tower of Rome, HeavyHeavyLowLow, Every Time I Die

By: Connor Welsh