Review Summary: The Ocean and the Sun is a stupendous and intriguing album. It boasts many different vocal styles, a plethora of moods and emotions, an amazing instrumental delivery, and is quite a cut above the rest lyrically.The Sound Of Animals Fighting – The Ocean and the Sun
TSOAF on The Ocean and The Sun:
Rich Balling (Ex-RX Bandits)
Matthew Embree (RX Bandits)
Christopher Tsagakis (RX Bandits)
Anthony Green (Circa Survive)
Matthew Kelly (The Autumns)
The Sound of Animals Fighting is an experimental rock band from Los Angeles. The Ocean and the Sun
is their third studio album. Their first album, Tiger and The Duke
, was a post-hardcore album that had progressive rock influences. While being a decently technical and well-written album, they just missed the mark of classic status because of the interlude tracks and lack of innovation. After that, the group recorded a sophomore effort: Lover, The Lord Has Left Us
. Instead of building on Tiger and The Duke
, this album came right out of the left field which consequentially made it have a polar opposite issue. LTLHLU had so many creative ideas and innovative aspects, but many of the tracks came off as a little lazy (unfinished ideas) and lacked the important song writing aesthetic that would have made everything come together much better.
I received The Ocean and The Sun
for Christmas the year it came out. I thought this album was going to be make-or-break for the band. The songs didn’t really click with me at first as they came off as quite boring and just plodded along weird and unlistenable ideas. However, when I started to listen more to what was going on, It slowly became one of my favorite albums of all time. The Ocean And The Sun
is a stupendous
and intriguing album. It boasts many different vocal styles, a plethora of moods and emotions, an amazing instrumental delivery, and is quite a cut above the rest lyrically.
The album features three vocalists (four if you count Matthew Kelly’s appearance). The most prominent vocalist on this album is most likely Anthony Green. He is a lot more diverse here then he has ever been with Circa Survive or Saosin. He makes his first and arguably most interesting appearance on the title track. At the beginning of the song, along with rather dissonant and weird instrumental accompaniment, Green croons “There’s a line, there’s a dozen more. Wrapping in a room, your country doors. There’s a man, he’s holding a pitcher of water. Follow him into the house…” If one wasn’t aware of Green’s inclusion in the group, they probably wouldn’t recognize him at all as this is quite a departure for him. Rich Balling and Matt Embree of RX Bandits-fame also vocally contribute to the album. Rich Balling gives a rather mournful and low-pitched delivery in contrast to Green. On songs like “I, The Swan”, he is quite poetic and provides a very fitting spoken word part at the crescendo. Matt Embree is also a quality vocalist. His contribution to “Blessings Be Yours, Mister V” is a piece I think only he could have done without it being too awkward.
Another great aspect of this album is the variety of moods and dynamics that hold it together. No two tracks on it sound the same. Every track here conveys a different emotion and has something different to say. From the rather delicate “On The Occasion Of Wet Snow”, to the fast paced and passionate “The Heraldic Beak Of The Manufacturer’s Medallion” to the musically compelling and experimental “Uzbekistan”, there is just so much to offer and so much to listen for. It manages to cover so many feelings and styles while still remaining consistent when put in this collection of masterpieces. Also, there are even parts of this album that contain vocals in different languages. For example, “Intro” is a spoken word poem in a foreign language. “Cellophane” is also sung in a foreign language for the first half of its duration.
The instrumental work on this album is almost entirely done by members of the RX Bandits. If you are a fan of RX Bandits, then you will probably recognize a bit of their sound on this record. Matt Embree is a very proficient guitarist who shows off his soloing skills during the fast section of “Cellophane”. However, unlike some guitarists with talent, he doesn’t insist on rubbing his techniques in your face and has a lot of minimalistic moments on the album. “Another Leather Lung” features a rather soothing yet oddly bouncy riff which is accentuated perfectly by Christopher Tsagakis’s drum patterns. Matt Embree also handles the bass on the album. The bass is in fact audible throughout the songs, and while it tends to be overshadowed by the rather attention-grabbing guitar melodies, it is usually interesting when one tries to listen for it. The bass guitar thumps along very rhythmically with the drums. Speaking of the drumming on this album, Christopher Tsagakis is an amazing drummer. He tends to play a very compelling style of drumming that involves a lot of high hat shuffling along and double bass gallops. It’s very hard to explain it to someone who hasn’t heard it before. A good example of his playing would be on "The Heraldic Beak Of The Manufacturerer's Medallion" when Green sings “…And stay in place”, and his drumming becomes the lead instrument briefly over Green’s acapella.
One of the most interesting and probably overlooked pros of this album is its lyrics. A lot of the songs on The Ocean And The Sun
have something different and important to say as opposed to all that junk that has been done before. For example, “The Ocean And The Sun” boasts an interesting social commentary:
“Our whole society revolves around mass production
The more units we can move
The more customers we can serve
The more boats we can get
The more money and the more stuff we have, the better, right?
Maybe it's not possible to touch one thousand peoples thinking,
or as powerfully as one person.”
As well, the album’s centerpiece/climax, “The Heraldic Beak Of The Manufacturer’s Medallion” has a lyrical section from Anthony Green which is extremely passionate and worth noting:
“Don't be held in a grip,
society, intention build up,
it will kill you.
I confess it was me,
I’m crawling backward.
What it does to you, is not the news.”
In conclusion, The Ocean And The Sun
is the best work The Sound Of Animals Fighting have ever written. In essence, they took the fast-paced progressive rock found on Tiger and The Duke
and balanced it perfectly with the better experimental aesthetics found on Lover, The Lord Has Left Us
. The guys can truly be proud of this record. The Ocean And The Sun is a very beautiful collection of compositions and I hope they continue as a group and grace us with more art in the near future.
OVERALL RATING: 5/5