City In The Sea Is Wise Beyond Its Years

In this week's issue of Phoenix New Times, we profiled ten new(ish) bands we expect to dominate Phoenix iPods and boomboxes this long, hot summer. We'll be focusing more deeply on those artists over the next couple days here on Up on the Sun.

See the entire list: 10 Local Bands You Should Be Listening to This Summer

Metalcore outfit City In The Sea isn't exactly new. The 5-piece has has been around since the summer of 2009, but it seems like only those truly integrated into the local metal scene know much of them.

Which is odd, considering they have shared the stage with such artists as Greeley Estates, Impending Doom, Oh Sleeper, The Word Alive and Miss May I. Maybe it's because vocalist Todd Reitmyer, guitarist/vocalist Jeff Horrocks, guitarist Nick Rossi, bassist Dan Marinaro and drummer Conor White are barely out of high school, and frequent hardcore, gritty spaces like the Nile Underground.

"Most of us were 16, although I think Nick was 15 when we first came together," says drummer White. But the band's young age hasn't stopped them from working up a heavy mix of hardcore and metal, enduring a hiatus, and becoming a crowd favorite among younger heavy fans.

The average City in the Sea fan is young, but age isn't the thing you take away from watching them. Simply put, these kids are fierce, and fiercely devoted, matching the band's intensity with breakneck-speed headbanging. The fans are almost as entertaining as the musicians to watch.

"Sometimes fights break out, but we tend to just play through them since we don't like to see that," says Horrocks. "One time, a friend ran up on stage in this gorilla suit and was just running around between us, rocking out. I was loving it."

Age aside, the band's collective technique and passion rank beyond their years, with such influences as Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, All That Remains, Breaking Benjamin, The Devil Wears Prada and Periphery blending into their distinct sound.

"We all like metal a lot but we also like jazz too," says White. "I think the technique and timing come into play."

And when it comes to lyrics, the music--which comes off as heavy and aggressive to some--is surprisingly upbeat and positive, a mixture of gravelly bellows and melodic harmonies the speak of uplift without resorting to preachy cheese.

"We try to stay on the positive side of this dark world," explains Horrocks. "We're all open about a lot of things, and we like to look at the bright side. After all, that's what everyone should be writing about; there's enough negative energy out there."

The band released their debut EP, The Long Lost in the early summer of 2010, and quietly parted ways. But they've been steadily making more noise since their reunion in 2011.

And as expected, their sound will evolve as they've grown. "The melodic vocals are more progressing as they go on," says White. "We will have a lot more on this upcoming album."

They're currently writing first full-length record, and are scheduled to go into a Michigan recording studio this month after a 10-show stint. But Phoenix fans will be appeased soon enough; we can expect them back for hometown gigs in late summer/early fall.

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