Review Summary: Brilliant in every way, Ohana's second album is the finest example of Australian screamo since Love Like...Electrocution's self-titled album.
Ohana's first record Weak Wrists
is an album that even two years on from its release can be considered one of the finest achievements in Australian DIY hardcore since. Its fusion of tricky math rock chaos with literary lyrical content and hints of unconventional post-rock ideas awarded Ohana support slots with everyone from Off Minor
to Explosions in the Sky
. At just over half the length of Weak Wrists
, Dead Beat
has twice that record's focus and precision.
Certainly the recent trend of minimalism seen in bands like My Disco
(and their excellent full length Paradise
, released this year) has carried over to Ohana for Dead Beat
. The wordy song titles and 8 minute instrumentals of Weak Wrists
are long gone. However, while a band like My Disco seems to strive for minimalism as an aesthetic and a means of challenging musical and songwriting ability, Ohana use minimalism to emphasise key emotional moments in their songwriting, both musically and lyrically. Take the album's longest track "Birth of the Clinic" as an example. The entire track builds around a frantic guitar riff to one of the noisiest parts of the album, only to climax on a brutal, impassioned scream of the simple line "What goes in my mouth/Comes out yours" accompanied by a drum pattern so sparse it almost doesn't exist. Indeed, what's so astounding about Dead Beat
is that in its 26 minute running time, not a second of it feels wasted, and not a second of it is less than great. Throughout the record we get the sense that everything in every single song is so meticulously controlled that there is nothing that doesn't happen exactly the way Ohana wants it to. Sure, the band are incredibly tight, but that's not really what the music is about. Each musician knows so precisely what he is contributing to the song that not a single note or word on the entire album is without a specific purpose.
Comparisons come easily, yet even the conglomeration of every possible comparison can't quite pinpoint Ohana's sound. The angular, catchy basslines lie somewhere in the middle of Off Minor
while the guitars seem to be equally influenced by modern screamo bands such as Daïtro
as they are influenced by mid-90s math rock, noise and post-hardcore. The drums are deceptively complex; often schizophrenic, alternating between fast, complex ideas and catchy rock and dance beats. Vocalist/guitarist Will Farrier alternates between unmelodic yelps, raw screams and and weird, almost eerie Battles-esque falsettos. Ultimately, Ohana's songs are far more than the sum of their parts.
is an album that manages to combine technical precision with songwriting and performance that is simultaneously incredibly moving and incredibly fu
cking cool. Its 26 minute running time plays host to so many amazing moments; the subtle climax of "One On Four", or the choppy opening riff of "End Fabric Indefinite", or the incredible dissonant catchiness of "Bad Credit/Good Posture", or the crazy noise of "They Scoundrels" that is replaced by the coolest bass riff written all year. There are many more moments that could be listed, but to do so would be pointless. If Dead Beat
is not perfect record, it certainly gets closer to perfection than most bands ever do with a single release and for that reason it deserves to be counted amongst records such as Love Like...Electrocution
's self-titled album as one of the finest examples of Australian DIY music.