Nautical rock band Rusty Shipp is making waves with the October 28 release of their full-length concept album, The Dark Side of the Ocean. This album includes 17 tracks, with the first half of the album being called “Descent” as it explores undiscovered creatures, sea angels, and the underwater kingdom. The second half of the album, “Ascent,” includes further exploration of the angelic kingdom and the band’s interest in the “world above the waves.”
Throughout 2022, Rusty Shipp released several of the album tracks as singles, including “Bottom of the Barrel” and “What’s Kraken?” Both were successful on charts like Christian Music Weekly and RadioU.
Let’s dive into the album from the beginning, remembering the overarching themes that this concept album presents.
The Dark Side of the Ocean starts with the title track, “Dark Side of the Ocean,” which sets us up for the musical and lyrical journey we are embarking on. We feel the excitement growing — as well as the mystery — as the sounds swell and voices deliver intriguing information about the ocean, such as “Scientists estimate that as much as 90% of the ocean species have never been discovered.” This track moves seamlessly into the next, “Living Waters.” Heavy guitars set it up to be a headbanger, with strong lyrics that storytell and reference elements of the Christian faith: “Let the living waters flow and bring the world to life / Trickle down the darkest cracks that never get the light.”
“What Blows Up (Must Come Down)” is the instrumental track that leads directly into “Bottom of the Barrel,” again with heavy guitars, a wide-ranging melody throughout, and hard-hitting, relatable lyrics: “No air left in my lungs / By now I’ve surely drowned / Down at the bottom of the barrel / Still your love is bottomless.” It’s no surprise this song did well as a single.
“The Bloop” is another short track that features a reading about Creation from Genesis 1, then leads into “Tanninim” (sea monster). In terms of storytelling, this song is my personal favorite. “Undisturbed for thousands of years the creatures didn’t need Adam’s name to give Him pleasure / Always do what they were made to, you betta / Let the darkness come, so the day can Rest In Peace / as nocturnal things come dance to minor harmonies.” This song features more eerie sound effects than the preceding ones, which makes perfect sense given the subject.
This song about the sea monsters continues to “What’s Kraken?” with the heavy guitars coming in. This song has an even more upbeat, punk feel. The song cleverly doubles as one about the sea creature and also about trusting what’s on the news in general, making it very relatable! “Who can always trust the news when it’s always who verse who? … I’m holding out for some good news that’s really good and really news.”
“Fish in the Sea” is a short acapella sailor’s song that fits in really well, showcasing what this band is capable of creating. I was very pleased to hear something like this midway through the album!
“Angel Aquarium” is a song about the underwater angels protecting human souls in their holding place until Judgement Day, and “Bioluminescence” is a short chorus from “Bottom of the Barrel” recast as a slower piano ballad. From here, we get 3 full-song tracks that are musically quite different, but each follow the same theme and storyline of angels protecting souls and questioning human fate and life on land.
Once these sea angels decide to journey above their known territory, another short instrumental track leads into “Untouchable,” with those hard-hitting guitars and catchy riffs making their way back in again: “Ride up to Heaven’s shore / No telling how high we can go / Climb even closer to the sun… I have eternal life / So tell me what is left to fear?”
A crazy guitar instrumental track “Up the Waterspout” takes us into our final full song, “The Other Side,” which starts off slow and acoustic before kicking into full gear. It is a great concluding song that wraps up the concept album well, while also doubling as a pretty clear song about the Christian faith and salvation: “we’re going on a search for the real Heaven / A Heaven we don’t have to wait for till our lives are through / We’re finding out the real meaning of salvation / And finding out it’s better than anything we thought we knew.”
Ending with a message of hope for the suffering human race is a solid final chapter in a clever musical story so well-done in every way.