Review Summary: A generally unique slab of progressive metalcore in a slowly staling scene.
The modern metalcore scene has been in need of something interesting to shake it up. Bands like Wage War and While She Sleeps have been making waves in the scene. Can Oceans Ate Alaska, with their new album Hikari
be enough to shake it up" While not being completely incredible, this album delivers a solid slab of progressive metalcore. Tinged with… Japanese elements"
Yes, this album includes a bit of Japanese influenced instrumentation. It is implemented very smoothly, and actually is very enjoyable when splashed into the record. Though it isn’t mind-blowing or revolutionary, it is done well enough to enjoy. Otherwise this album is instrumentally stellar. There are many moments on the record as a whole that will get you either thinking or headbanging. One of the standout moments on the entire record would be the title track. The instrumentals at the beginning of the track display Oceans’ ability to write a smooth and beautiful instrumental. There is notable bass work on that track as well, and the melodies vocally are soaring and very enjoyable. I could say the same things for the instrumental track Ukiyo
. The drumwork in the record is generally run of the mill, but there are a few moments that do stand out; specifically the small bursts of blast beats splashed throughout the record. It is something you don’t hear often in metalcore nowadays, and certainly stands out.
What would metalcore be without breakdowns" Probably a breath of fresh air, but I digress. This album uses breakdowns generally in a good way. The final track, Escapist
(one of the best tracks on the record), has a very fun breakdown at the end preceded by some Japanese instrumentals. Covert
also has a couple very enjoyable breakdowns. Though, one of the biggest downfalls of this record is the slight overuse of slow crushing breakdowns. They have no merit in general, and certainly in this record. A part of this, though, may be due to the album’s biggest downfall, the vocals.
The vocals of this record are generally unimpressive. The low false chords (used in the crushing breakdowns) tend to sound very weak and not full whatsoever. It feels almost as if they try to bury those vocals in heavy instrumentals so that it isn’t noticeable, but when you really listen to them, they don’t sound very good. The other biggest gripe with the vocals is the yelled/fry vocals. They end up sounding very whiny or, dare I say, cringey; specifically in the track Birth-Marked
. The concept of that song has to do with abuse as a child, but the fry vocals kill the mood and make the concept seem over-done. That isn’t to say, though, that all of the vocals are subpar. The mid to high false chord range is very strong, and the clean vocals, while sometimes a bit whiny, are generally catchy and fun (Escapist
’s chorus comes to mind).
Overall, Oceans Ate Alaska has crafted something unique in the slowly staling metalcore scene. The prog-esque instrumentals, whether it be djenty, or Japanese, add a nice flavor to modern metalcore. While not being perfect by any means, the album is generally enjoyable, and I feel that fans of the genre will find something to connect to and appreciate. The vocals need work, but I certainly see potential for improvement. This album makes me interested and somewhat excited to see what comes next from these guys, and the metalcore genre in general.