Broadside – ‘Into The Raging Sea’

By Gem Rogers

The path to album number three hasn’t been the smoothest for Broadside. Coming two years after sophomore full length ‘Paradise’, singles ‘King Of Nothing’ and ‘Empty’ marked the end of an era for the Virginia band in May 2019 as their final releases on Victory Records. With guitarist and vocalist Dorian Cooke also departing just days later to pursue his own projects, their statement at the time confirmed that “this is not the end for Broadside” – and, after a move to SharpTone Records earlier this year, ‘Into The Raging Sea’ is their chance to prove it.

Sweeping in with a darkness that feels more pervasive than we’ve heard from Broadside before, ‘Into The Raging Sea’ is immediately gripping; building in huge, tempestuous waves that truly bring ‘The Raging Sea’ to life, this opening track feels like vocalist Ollie Baxxter opening the door into his mind as he battles the weight of expectation and self-doubt. This kind of introspection isn’t new to Broadside – ‘Summer Stained’ from 2017’s ‘Paradise’ delved into the need for validation found on tour, for example – but as Baxxter pleads for “36 minutes of your time”, there’s the sense of an outstretched hand leading us into this rich soundscape, making it feel all the more personal.

Although Broadside frequently find themselves chucked into the box labelled ‘pop punk’ – and there are definitely plenty of pop punky elements on display here, especially in tracks like ‘Foolish Believer’ with its effervescent, singalong chorus – this is first and foremost a rock album, taking influence from a multitude of subgenres along the way. The result is a collection of songs with a great depth to their sound, and a variety that keeps the whole record fresh. From the dancing synthy beats of ‘Nights Alone’ that emulate the exhilaration of new romance, to the soaring, epic mood of ‘Seasons’ and vivacious ‘The Setting Sun’ – which also offers one of the most stunning, unforgettable final minutes of the year – there’s plenty on offer in these 36 minutes.

As with the two albums that came before, it’s in the lyrics that Broadside show their greatest strength. Creating vivid imagery with words can often result in a lack of relatability and straightforward language, but Baxxter combines the two with a delicate and masterful skill to creates stories that feel tangibly real, the kind that conjure their own miniature film as you listen. A theme of belief – whether it be self-belief or lack thereof, the search for it, and the belief that comes from others’ faith in us – is sewn into the heart of ‘Into The Raging Sea’, and the fact that it feels like we’ve been allowed a glimpse into Baxxter’s innermost thoughts only enhances the power behind the words.

Vocally, it seems Baxxter has granted himself a little more freedom on this album too; there’s a subtle edge and creeping coarseness to his voice that has always added an extra dimension, but here it seems fully realised – and the moments when that strength is unleashed are spinetingling, especially on album highlights like ‘The Raging Sea’, ‘Clarity’, and ‘Seasons’. There are some gigantic, stadium-filling rock sounds at play in these tracks, as well as on the triumphant ‘Breathe You In’ with its layered vocals and almost orchestral feel. There’s only a slight dip in the middle of the album with the more clichéd ‘Dancing On The Ceiling (With You)’ – there’s nothing inherently wrong with it, and it’s a perfectly fun pop number, but it’s hard not to wish for just a little more of the dark, brooding mood of the title track at this point.

‘Into The Raging Sea’ is not the kind of album that takes a wild, flailing leap away from the band’s previous sound; rather, it builds on what came before it, adding new elements and a confidence in what they’ve created to produce songs that are both irresistibly fun, and genuinely meaningful. Broadside are proving themselves as a band to be held onto long into the future, and one who will surely continue to grow – you’d be hard pressed to find a good reason not to give far more than thirty six minutes of your time to this one.

GEM ROGERS

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