Oceans Ate Alaska
Oceans Ate Alaska just put out their second album ‘Hikari’ and it’s getting a lot of hype. I like it and it grows on me each time I listen to it, but if I’m being honest I don’t think it will crack the top ten. I think the Japanese theme is really cool, I appreciate the deep lows, and am really glad to see them continuing the high screams (which metalcore desperately needs more of), but in the end the tracks are so all over the place. The songs are so schizophrenic that it’s unenjoyable to follow along. I know some people like this and I’ll admit that I’m a little biased against them, but in my defense I just don’t think they do it, very well. I like what they’re going for with the technical aspects but real mathcore bands (think old Norma Jean, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Converge) do it a lot better. The plus side of this album for me is that I like this vocalist a lot better. Jake’s lows and highs are just as good as James’ and his clean singing fits the music a lot better than James’ girly cleans. I also want to note that this album has a ridiculous amount of heavy breakdowns and that they do a good job of switching them up (some are fast, slow, have empty space, etc.).
-“Benzaiten” starts off the Japanese theme on the album and quickly gets super heavy as the vocalist of Black Tongue helps give the track some crazy lows.
-“Sarin” starts off and immediately reminds me of Villains (later called Yuth Forever) and that’s a sound I miss a lot. I’d love to see more of that from them, especially combined with the lows they’re capable of.
-“Hansha” was my favorite track on the album. The serene intro is amazing and the cleans finally sound like they belong on an Oceans Ate Alaska song. The normal cleans he does in this track are superior to all the other cleans the band has ever had. They match the instruments really well and don’t sound like they’re competing to be heard over how fast the band normally plays. The cuts in and out of the screams are also done really well. I think this is what they’re going for most of the time but in “Hansha” they actually accomplish it without making it sound bipolar and splitting the track in half. This one feels so soft and so heavy at the same time and I really think that’s what OAA has been going for all along.
-“Deadweight” is one of the heaviest songs on the album. It’s full of lows, great breakdowns, stressed guitar notes, and has another part that sounds a lot like Villains which makes it one of my favorites on the album. Another reason is because they don’t have cleans in it which makes it sound like an actual song rather than the schizophrenic sound the others have.
-“Entrapment” has a rap section but cutting it out would probably improve the song. The interlude that follows it is great though. Any of the times where the band goes into more of the serene, Japanese theme is a highlight.
-“Hikari”, the title track, does something I really miss that bands used to do. It starts off really soft and slowly transitions into the heaviness. Think “Seven” from Phinehas or “Salvation” from The Devil Wears Prada.
-“Escapist” is the last track and the interlude before it sets it up nicely. OAA does a decent amount of spoken word sections but the one at 0:41 really stands out to me. The Japanese style in the background puts a cool emphasis on it and I like how the stressed guitar notes follow it. This one also has a lot of breakdowns with empty space which makes them feel even heavier (kind of like how Lorna Shore does theirs). The outro was also a great way to close the album out.