Versus the Ocean - Evolve
Record Company: Unsigned
Release Date: February 4th, 2011
Music is the expression of feeling. All musicians want to convey a specific emotional message through their albums. Without feeling or emotion, music would be laughable at best. As fans, we expect something to connect with, whether it be through lyrics or a sweet riff that caught our ear. Lately, I've noticed a significant decrease in legitimate feeling in music, especially in post-hardcore. It's all chug chug; it's become a formulaic thing with a specific pattern. Their first priority is to sell records, and emotion takes a back seat. Sure, the lyrics contain an emotional message, but there's no validity in its delivery. I went into Versus the Ocean's new album, Evolve, with this exact mindset. I expected another run-of-the-mill post-hardcore act trying to capitalize on the success of what their peers had previously done. As it turns out, Evolve does indeed contain a sense of familiarity, yet they do familiarity with such style and real emotion that it makes this album hard to resist.
Back when Versus the Ocean released their debut album, If Only You Knew, I found it somewhat enjoyable, but the release suffered too much from a lack of uniqueness. Now, with Evolve, the band manages to finally stand on their own two feet right off the get-go. "Zero Hour" is a splendid opener, mixing space rock guitars with hard-hitting riffs. When you throw in a very enjoyable piano melodic moment, you have a very strong opening. Now the album is definitely not without flaws. There's a somewhat misplaced breakdown in the otherwise catchy "Shadows" and a few moments where the album just goes into full-on mediocre mode. Yet, these are few and far between. The solo outro featured in "Glass Floors and Golden Ceilings" (the solo is actually performed by I Am Abomination's own Nick Sampson, who also had a hand in production) is an extremely high moment in the album, as is the song itself. "The Cure" is a genius melodic album closer, featuring some of the best vocals ever laid down by singer Jeremy Monroe.
The album's production value far exceeds that of their first album. It sounds like there was a lot of attention to detail, and it really pays off. As musicians, the band manages to set themselves apart from their peers thanks to capable and -- at times -- unique guitar work from Mike Hale and Alex Minarik. As far as lyrics go, the album is filled with verses about break-ups, personal life struggles, and all the things you'd come to expect. They may be somewhat cliched, yet the delivery behind them is real and emotional.
Versus the Ocean may just be a local Michigan band, but they're showcasing a very professional skill level and they're charging into the music industry by force that it'll be sure to turn some heads. What we really have in the end is a band that's mixing feeling with talent. We have a band that has a real passion for making music, and therefore we're able to relate to them. We have a band that's taking previously done things and doing it with style and a hint of their own spice added in. What we have is a band with endless potential, and breathtaking substance.