The Sound Of Animals Fighting – The Ocean and The Sun
Release Date: September 9, 2008
Record Label: Epitaph
For those with a keen memory, you will recall that the second album from The Sound Of Animals Fighting, Lover, The Lord Has Left Us…, left quite an unpleasant taste in my mouth. The original four from the debut, Tiger & The Duke, expanded to nine, with tracks being passed back and forth with new additions. Highly ambitious, incredibly frustrating, it wasn’t just the Lord who left them, a good handful of fans left too. But when it was announced that the third album was going to be released on Epitaph and that the band was returning back to the core four – The Nightingale (Rich Balling), The Walrus (Matt Embree), The Lynx (Chris Tsagakis), and The Skunk (Anthony Green) – interest was high among fans, new and old.
With The Ocean and The Sun, TSOAF maintain their ambitious ways, but include more tantalizing riffs, less blips and random noises, and just better overall composition. The vocal chemistry between Balling and Green is splendid, as evident on “I, The Swan,” which begins with Balling slow vocals over sparse riffs and drum beats. Green brings the energy over the huge bridge, and immediately you can sense the difference between The Ocean and its predecessor. There is a lot less ambience this time around, as “Another Leather Lung” features menacing guitar riffs paced by Green’s yelping. You could even argue that some of the tracks flow in the vein of Circa Survive. “Cellophane” channels Radiohead as Balling wails over dreary riffs and a trumpet, then picks up into a staccato-paced frenzy featuring riffs that may remind you of The Mars Volta.
It transitions nicely into “The Heraldic Beak Of The Manufacturer’s Medalion,” which, plainly put, just absolutely rips. Full of urgency and complexity, it will remind you of the best from the debut album. Paced like an escape car, it is the definite highlight of the album. “Uzbekistan” could have fit in on Lover, but as one of the few good tracks. The band has learned to be ambitious while not going crazy with it and losing the listener. “On The Occasion Of Wet Snow” begins as a peaceful closer, combining fuzzed out guitars and Balling’s soft vocals over a dreamy landscape. Over the middle of the track, it begins to speed up, the guitars awake, while Tsagakis’ incredible drumming provides the backbone, ending the album on a high note.
After listening to The Ocean and The Sun for the first time, I was taken aback and impressed. The Sound of Animals Fighting lost me with their last release, but their new work is the true natural progression that should have been taken after the debut, thus proving Lover, The Lord Has Left Us… as an aberration in the band’s discography. The Sound of Animals Fighting has finally got it right, releasing an album equally creative and progressive while not being so far out there that any one can follow along. The guitar work from Embree is top notch and you will not hear a better drummer than Tsagakis. Forget about the misstep that was Lover and pick up The Ocean and The Sun immediately.
The score doesn't really reflect the review. But I agree with the review. This album is far and away better than anything this band has put out. Yes, even Tiger. I am hoping and praying this band will either do a tour or another album. It's just too much potential to kill.