Review Summary: A strong and promising debut.
In our recent interview with guitarist Tyler Ross he stated that while all the members of Being As An Ocean are Christian they certainly weren't 'in 'the business' of Christianity'. It's probably an important distinction for a lot of people. Those who would simply sneer 'so what, it doesn't matter, it's all about the music maaan' clearly haven't thought their argument through. I wouldn't buy, listen to or endorse any band that endorsed or wrote songs in favour of capital punishment or persecuting gay people no matter how brilliant their music was; Being As An Ocean do neither of course, but the bottom line is faith is one of, if not the most divisive issue in the world today. So calling your début album 'Dear G-D...' and having songs called 'Humble Servant, I Am' is both brave, honest and potentially off-putting.
But ardent atheists needn't be worried by such titling. There's none of the arrogant, ram-it-down-your-throat missionary zeal of a band like For Today to be found here. Instead much of the album is spent questioning and exploring faith and God. And importantly (for someone like me anyway) on closer 'If They're Not Counted, Count Me Out' they acknowledge and attack the poisonous side of Christianity; the scaremongers who manipulate faith to spread hate and the bigots who rant of hell and the sadistic punishments that await those who reject their beliefs and codes of conduct. It's refreshing to hear a Christian band sincerely espousing a very humanist version of faith; acceptance and tolerance seem to be paramount here.
But enough theology. What of the music? Interestingly their most well known song is probably the one the least concerned with God; 'The Hardest Part Is Forgetting Those You Swore You Would Never Forget' is a melancholic lament for a former lover. It juxtaposes spacey, screamed verses with a succinct, anthemic chorus that could easily have been repeated ad nauseam but is thankfully used sparingly, heightening its impact. Elsewhere there's a refreshing simplicity and directness to songs such as the punky opener 'Nothing, Save The Power They're Given' and mid-tempo 'Salute E Vita'. 'This Room Is Alive' hurtles forward at breakneck speak before settling into a tasty groove and closer 'If They're Not Counted, Count Me Out' is simultaneously the best song instrumentally and the most poignant lyrically.
The weak link is the eleven minute long 'It's Really Not As Complicated As You're Making Out'. This lengthy instrumental is a noble attempt at experimentation but sorely lacks dynamism and fails to connect; the explosive crescendo never arrives and the long-winded Mahatma Gandhi speech feels like a poor choice of sample. A notoriously shy public speaker, Gandhis 'On God' may accurately represent the band's position on faith, but it doesn't make for exciting listening. Thankfully in stark contrast vocalist Joel Quartuccio is a downright fearsome orator. Whether he's mourning past partners ('The Hardest Part Is...') or attacking those who would wield faith as a weapon, using it as a cosh to control others ('If They're Not Counted, Count Me Out'), his sincerity and conviction are palpable. His voice segues seamlessly from spoken word to impassioned raw, and despite being employed sparingly his cleans are strong and full.
Dear G-D... is a promising and exciting first release. Where other bands may be tempted to be heavy-footed it steps lightly and rather than dictating it explores and questions. With a distinct aesthetic and sound already forming it will be very interesting to see where Being As An Ocean go next. You can rest assured it'll be an interesting journey.