Review Summary: A diverse approach can bring out flaws that hinder an album.
There is a lot of subtlety packed in with How We Both Wondrously Perish, the new release by Being As An Ocean. This album is a more diverse approach than what was heard on previous effort Dear G-d. Gone are the deafening breakdowns that gave them more of a melodic hardcore approach. With the music now are synthesizers and drones that keep the mix full, sometimes too full, but at times are placed in key places to bring a bit more emotions to each track. The other notable features of this album are the two new band members. Most notable is rhythm guitarist and clean vocalist Michael McGough. The other member is new drummer Connor Denis.
The first song on the album showcases a lot of what will be in store for listeners throughout the rest of the album. A drone pulsates and then the band enters with a driving chord progression and harsh vocals from Joel Quarticcio. McGough's clean vocals bring a poppy edge to the track, but the end of 'Mediocre Shakespeare' is juxtaposed by both vocalists collaborating on one part. The album is interesting sonically, embracing a nice mix of clean and distorted guitars. The new guy, Connor Denis, fits in very well. The instruments on this album are well done. The ending stop and go push of 'Death's Great Black Wing Scrapes The Air' is a defining example of how tight this band plays. The leads provided by Tyler Ross weave well with the flow of 'L'exquisite douleur.' Some subtle instruments make their way and help the music out, like the synthesizers during the chorus of 'We Drag The Dead On Leashes' or the soft jingles in 'Mothers.' These are subtle parts that work.
The vocal approach features much of what made 'Dear G-d' so enjoyable two years ago. Joel's harsh vocals are still gritty and on the verge of breaking with every yell. The spoken word portions are back but more expected this time. The predictability of the parts are present, but the actual lyrics are daunting, especially on 'The Poets Cry For More' (my favorite track on the album). This is the track I finally felt an impact much like that of 'The Hardest..." from their previous album. The presence of McGough can make or break songs, and his edgy vocals perform well on the first half of the album. With the spoken word, the harsh screams, and clean vocals it can give off a three vocalist impression, but it is just Joel and McCough.
At the end of 'The Poets Cry For More' there is the most defining gripe of this album for me, the low end static drone that pulses over different chords as the song closes. The ambient sections of this album throw off the flow and the production at times, which really hinders songs or parts. This is not Being As An Ocean featuring Tim Hecker. I do not get the awkward placement of the heavy synth and static of 'We Drag The Dead On Leashes.' One of the most explosive parts on the album should have been the breakdown on 'Even The Dead Have Their Tasks' but it was ruined by this muddy noise floating over the feedback, diluting all energy from the part. Live I am sure without the noise the part would be the destructive presence it should have been, but it was taken back a few paces by the production. Take a listen to the opening and ending of 'Grace, Teach Us What We Lack' and tell me why the clings are needed. The track also features a guest vocalist that rubbed me wrong.
Another track to be highlighted is 'Mothers.' The song is an emotional piece with a gloomy ending instrumental. This is what I want to hear more of, the introspective and challenging Being As An Ocean. All in all, How We Both Wondrously Perish features some decent tracks, but parts of the album are hindered by the more 'artsy' approach.