Irish alt-rock act The North Sea burst on the scene back in 2012 with their debut EP. Since then, times have been good for members Eoin Kenny, Shane Monaghan, Gary Mackey, Lee Carr and Daragh Murphy. Not only have they had their single “In Love” named as Hot Press Magazine’s “single of the fortnight”, their material has also been gracing radio waves and attracting attention from major media outlets such as RTE.

Right now though, the band are busy promoting their recently released inaugural album, Anniversary. Beginning with the affecting instrumental introduction of “I Promise”, it builds into a biting riff before an upbeat melody takes over. The result is an innocuous and enthusiastic opener that gets things off to a pleasant start. “December” follows upon light and airy guitars that sets a vivacious vibe on the way towards energetic vocals. Moving along at a quick pace, it remains active and animated all the way through.

“In Love” erupts into a rousing rhythm ahead of a fast and forceful first verse. The avid execution of the instrumentation thrills on the way to a slower, cutting chorus that’s full of feeling. A brisk guitar solo around the two minute mark penetrates before a final onslaught of solemn vocals brings things to a crisp conclusion. The percussion of “Drinking Alone” takes over to pound behind a sombre riff and forlorn harmony. This leads to a loud and lively chorus which still maintains a downbeat demeanour. Its serious sound is quite moving, while the passion and emotion that it displays makes it an arresting ordeal.

Ominous instrumentation and a cool harmony have quite a relaxing effect, despite their unsettling nature, as “All This for Nothing” begins. Its vocals become more vivid and resonant as they develop, piercing and captivating as they do so. The outcome is a bleak ballad that bears a lot of weight. “Vulnerable” is more optimistic in its wake, racing through a high-pitched harmony and guitars that reverberate fervently. There’s something incredibly haunting about the whole thing as it echoes chillingly across the air.

“Our Flaws” is another sonorous and sobering entry, whose heavy content hits hard, while the instrumental salvos that pad out the vocals volleys are quite ethereal and enthralling. “Against the Ropes” charges into a tumult of frantic guitars and drums next, establishing an urgent ambience on the approach to a vigorous verse. The tempo and momentum increase for a thunderous chorus, forging a speedy and resounding undertaking.

“Belong” features warm and welcoming instrumentation that grows behind affable vocals loaded with depth and meaning. It continues to excite and evolve as it goes on, ending up as a progressive and powerful piece which leaves a lasting impression. “Decay” arrives afterwards via rapid riffs that rouse and then relent for a characteristically heartfelt harmony. It serves as an uplifting finale that rounds the record off nicely.

The North Sea have managed to put together a big and brilliant rock album that’s consistently captivating. The epic scale of its industrious anthems is extremely impressive, ensuring an invigorating listen from start to finish. Be sure to check out Anniversary on iTunes, where it’s available for download now.

The North Sea - Anniversary album review
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