Oceans Ate Alaska - Into The Deep
Record Label: Density Records
Release Date: November 13, 2012
It's obvious that Oceans Ate Alaska are brand new to the scene. They're name relates to common themes of hardcore bands that have some affinity with both the sea and random US states, although they're usually not paired together. They play a lot of breakdowns and showcase the Asking Alexandria-esque vocals so many other bands have. I mean, come on, they have a song called "I, The Creator" for Christ's sake. As if we haven't been annoyed enough by bands emerging from nowhere with a song or band name in the same damn format. All these similarities most likely show that the band is basing most of their work off of other works they listen to, or that they just want to follow the same format to reach similar successes. Either way, this is a formula for disaster since it's an obvious mark of a lack of originality. However, luckily for Oceans Ate Alaska, they possess a true identity that would be widely accepted on its own. As much as it may be muddled in a sea of commonplace patterns and trends, it's still there, and it's got enough of a fully loaded progressive attack to really do a lot for them when it comes out.
Try not to let my Asking Alexandria comparison scare you; it only relates to the vocals. Admittedly, AA's vocals are not that bad, but Oceans Ate Alaska's are better regardless. There's actually quite a lot to like from this band, including the fast-paced energy, the thick, cutting, and melodic guitar parts unique to each song, and the busy and sporadic teamwork of drummer Chris Turner and guitarists Adam Zytkiewicz and James Kennedy. All of these elements are found right after the intro "The Deep" build up an ambient theme to the album. Although the ambience is cut short and doesn't flow into the next track, there is still a lot of energy that picks things right back up. The next track "I, The Creator" shows off the band at their best; fast and unrestrained drums work with the bass to create a driving rhythm as thick and melodic guitar lines share the center of attention with the soaring vocals. A lot of their self-proclaimed progressive sound can be heard here as one part changes to another constantly, leaving the choruses to unify the themes of the song.
The term progressive, however, can be misleading since a lot of the material on this album come off as nothing but metalcore. In songs like "Hunting Season," the song structure gets significantly weakened by the overuse of breakdowns. The band isn't necessarily reliant on breakdowns to hold their songs together. Rather, they seem to believe that using breakdowns will add a heavy element to their songs, but most of the time, they end up simply breaking down (no pun intended) the progressive and unified flow they initially create. It seems like the breakdowns are just thrown in there for the sake of having breakdowns, and there are just so many that don't belong.
It seems that those are the two types of songs you get with this album. However, there's definitely more to enjoy in this album than there is to write off as filler. Probably the most important contribution to this album is the song "Taming Lions." The original version takes their signature cutting riffs and sporadic arrangement to full force, balanced by the addicting chorus that brings everything together. The bridge builds up more power, creating an intense emotional attack that makes the song memorable. Later, the song "Clocks" brings yet another intense delivery of progressive structure and impressive instrumental work. Then at the end of the album, the acoustic version of "Taming Lions" works to completely change the course of the album. It closes the album out on a peaceful note, creatively changing the entire mood of the original version and re-addressing the theme originally introduced by "The Deep."
There is a lot to love from Oceans Ate Alaska. This band knows how to write riff after riff that keep things at an interesting yet hectic pace. There is a strong progressive edge that is very prominent throughout most of the album. However, it often gets drowned out by the cliched breakdowns, vocals, and lyrics that have been seen so many times before. Oceans Ate Alaska is definitely on their way, but they'll need to more strongly affirm their identity to become a stronger force and truly set themselves apart from the rest.