Sophomore slump or comeback of the year? Back on July 23, 2021, Post-Hardcore newcomers Capstan defied the odds to deliver a phenomenal second studio album, Separate, thanks to Fearless Records.
During their stint on the final cross-country run of the Vans Warped Tour, in 2018, these Floridians amassed a reputation for killer performances that delivered must-hear sincerity. Thus, for their dedicated fan base, which swelled thanks to Kevin Lyman, an album that’s all-killer and no-filler is no big surprise, and an apropos follow-up to their 2019 full-length debut, Restless Heart, Keep Running. With the quintet—Vocalist Anthony DeMario, Guitarists Harrison Bormann and Joseph Mabry, Bassist/Vocalist Andrew Bozymowski, and Drummer Scott Fisher—parlaying their determined indie spirit into a second record, anticipation ran high for its outcome.
Don’t call it a comeback, though, because Capstan never went away. With the release of the 10-song Separate, produced by Machine (Lamb of God, Fall Out Boy), it is pretty much guaranteed that they are destined to continue to grow their good name. Pairing an astounding diversity of influences with technical flash and an open ribcage, they share their hearts with listeners throughout each of the collection’s candid offerings—each of which carries a torch that was lit by the brutal honesty of Senses Fail, genre-defiance of Thrice, and technical flash of Periphery.
Together, these elements inspire some of the finest moments on Separate: from the showmanship of Bormann and Mabry on the opener “pretext” to possibly the heaviest of the bangers, “tongue-biter.” But what sets their sophomore LP apart from the herd are the chances that they joyfully take with their compositions. On “take my breath away // noose,” the 1960s tango with Pop-Punk to bring us some of Bozymowski’s funkiest bass licks, all as he and his bandmates flaunt a little something called personality. For “blurred around the edges,” they bring in Saxl Rose to provide the perfect sax complement to DeMario’s fears. It is a moment that flawlessly encapsulates how it feels to be alone inside a crowded space, self-doubt an anchor that pulls your entire being toward the grave.
While Silverstein’s Shane Told offers a truly organic vocal feature on the heaviness of “alone,” it is singer-songwriter Charlene Joan whose angelic voice wraps each note of the acoustic love song “sway” around our hearts. Thankfully, though each of these talented individuals brings something special to the collection, Capstan is able to impress on their own with haunting lyrics (“abandon”) that lay their souls bare as they offer us self-reflective rockers (“shattered glass”), catchy twists on old cliches (“shades of us”), and explorations of the masochistic dualities of life (“decline”). How do you embrace gratitude when you feel like a failure, they ask us, and each listener must travel deep into the oubliette of their own mind to find an answer.
It is this autopsy of the spirit that sits at the core of Separate, an album that bleeds honesty. So, while DeMario should definitely work on his “blegh” if he ever hopes to compete against Sam Carter (Architects) or Chris Motionless (Motionless In White), Capstan’s poetic melancholia is addicting. Sure, they’re not rewriting the script on Post-Hardcore, but their careful rearranging of its pieces to place their indelible mark on the source material is powerful and compelling. In fact, the young band’s ability to keep stride with the very luminaries who inspired them to take the stage is impressive enough to make them a name worth knowing. So if you’ve slept on these sincere songsmiths, it’s time to wake up! Cryptic Rock gives Separate 5 out of 5 stars.