“Ocean Sleeper… my favourite band in the world”, he said sarcastically.
Earlier this week, Gippsland-based metalcore heathens, Ocean Sleeper, released a new single titled ‘Worthless•No Purpose‘. Now, regular readers here will know that I’ve slated these guys heavily in the past. But how does their newest track fair in my not so humble eyes? Well, the answer will not surprise anyone – not in the fuckin’ slightest.
Funnily enough, I was actually quite keen to hear this new song. No, pipe down you lot, not out of some weird sense of masochism or out of mere spite, but out of a genuine hope that I might even enjoy it. Becuase like everyone else in this world, I want to honestly like things, but that’s not always the case and I ain’t gonna sugarcoat shit otherwise.
Anyway, ‘Worthless•No Purpose‘ is probably the best thing that this still admittedly young band has done so far. Yet that’s barely the most glowing endorsement I could give as my review of their debut EP earlier this year was easily one of the harshest reviews that I’ve ever penned and the bar here is still hanging very low. However, there is some extra bite, dare I say some added edge to this latest offering in parts and it’s a slightly more aggressive track than what this group put forward with their ‘Six Feet Down‘ EP material. However – much like that aforementioned EP – musically, there are no real staggering differences to be had when you compare this Victorian group’s grossly cookie-cutter metalcore sound with what so many others bands are churning out willy-nilly.
There’s no real change-up in the riff department apart from the odd nu-metal/beatdown-like pinch harmonics heard at various points in the song, which are often lost in favour of their genre’s typical one-dimensional chugs taking precedence instead. There are also seemingly reused synth melodies underpinning this new song’s choruses that feel ripped straight from their debut EP and many other bands, all in the same generic manner. Vocally, there’s just the usual one-note, mid-range scream that vocalist Karl Spiessl can only ever seem to muster out. Guitarist and clean singer Ionie Heckenberg – who over time just sounding more and more like Ahren Stringer (with far fewer amounts of autotune, mind you) – does actually have some life and character to his voice here and is hopefully an element that the band doesn’t forget about moving forward. And in all seriousness, the chorus’s hooks wasn’t half bad, actually. Sure, I’ve heard that kind of chorus countless times before in metalcore but it wasn’t totally awful.
Falling back on the negative foot after extracting the very few positives, though, their song structure approach hasn’t changed. Well, other than a spacious, atmospheric-like bridge section heard halfway through that while breaking up the track’s pace nicely is also a moment that’s just as trite as using a trendy electronica intro for your song. Which is exactly how Ocean Sleeper starts this track off no fucking less. Not only that, but this song’s mix just feels kinda… off. For instance, the guitar’s don’t sound all that polished and the way that the drums sound and sit in the mix overall leaves something to be desired, making for even less of an impact than the band probably hoped for. Heckenberg is credited with producing, mixing and mastering this song and maybe that’s the real issue here – fresher ears and an outsider perspective is sorely needed for this band’s future work.
‘Worthless•No Purpose‘ also goes on longer than it has any right to. That’s not a matter of my attention span either – some of my favourite records in 2017 easily hit the hour mark and beyond – that’s just a matter of this song never really going anywhere nor it never adding anything new for the band’s sound. Truly, Ocean Sleeper’s music lacks any sense of originality as well as it lacking something interesting to say that hasn’t already been said before. Because while some listeners may consider their lyrics to be upfront and honest – which I won’t deny people the right to think – their lyrics are often void of depth. There are no layered or meaningful metaphorical ideas, no contrasting motifs, nothing crazily personal or even anything of notable poetic value to be had, nor anything that memorable or poignant in terms of actual lyrical content. The monotonous screams really don’t help matters either. While the thematic intent of Ocean Sleeper’s songs are often noble in nature (“…none of that matters as long as you stick to who you want to be and what makes you happy. Life is all about highs and lows, this one is for the lows” they stated over Facebook when ‘Worthless•No Purpose‘ dropped), their song’s lyrics let their positive intentions (six feet) down.
And Jesus Christ, then there’s the accompanying music video, which is gloriously dull and just so goddamn expected from a metalcore band of this ilk. There’s no narrative to it at all, and there’s zero thought-provoking imagery or symbology to be had here; something that Void Of Vision – who are of a very similar sound – actually did really well with recently. It’s just this boring music video of the local four-piece playing in an empty room and then outside at night; one that just acts like a glorified play-through clip of the song itself. (Although, Heckenberg’s slightly off-putting down-the-camera looks are kinda funny, if not in the best way, and the blooper at the clip’s end regarding tight and shredded AF drummer Jarred Robson being caught out in the rain was worth a chuckle or two. If only because he looks like he’s about to fucking fall asleep in the clip itself). Yet for all of this band’s lyrical talk of personal struggles, hardships and mental health, none of their accompanying visuals (nor their lyrics) ever once bolster these ideas or take them to the lengths that they can and should go to. And no, that ‘Six Feet Down‘ music video didn’t take shit far enough. Though to throw them a bone, I do feel that these guys are capable of such things, they just need the right video, the right song and the right batch of lyrics to pull it off.
Also, someone pointed out to me the other day that this song’s title is basically just a lyric from The Acacia Strain’s ‘Worthless‘, taken from this year’s ‘Gravebloom‘ LP, which goes: “So fucking worthless, you serve no purpose“. Coincidence? Yeah, maybe, but that’s not a good look for a band whose music is already derivative as all fuck.
So yes, while not great or all that good, I still didn’t completely hate and utterly loathe ‘Worthless•No Purpose‘. Well, not to the lowly extent that I regard their other material in, that is. If you’re a fan (some-fucking-how), have a weird morbid curiosity about this, or if you’re maybe looking for the new Amity Affliction, check out Ocean Sleeper’s latest below:
If for whatever reason you’re keen on these guys, you can catch them at their final 2017 live show in Melbourne at the Northcote Social Club on December 8th – deets here.