Track Review: Ocean Sleeper – ‘Save Me’

Maybe just save yourselves instead?

Ocean Sleeper’s newest single, ‘Save Me‘, was sent to me early on by their PR and I thought barely anything of it, as it was that mundane. But then the music video for said song came up on my YouTube recommendations recently, so I gave it another go, sparking me to write this little review piece about the Gisspland-Melbourne band’s latest release. Given everything I’ve said about this band before, it’d be remiss of me to not do any kind of follow-up now.

The fact that this track was produced, mixed and mastered by Kris Crummett (the man behind many Dance Gavin Dance and Issues releases, among others) confounds me. For a band to travel that far to America, to spend that much money, only to return with a product that’s a slightly better-arranged version of their already uninspired metalcore sound is nuts in my mind. And no, that’s not a dig at Kris’s work – he’s one of the better producers and engineers going around. Now, when I first heard that’s who Ocean Sleeper was working with for their debut album, I had a few assumptions about what would maybe follow. That Kris would hopefully take the band further and they’d really evolve; that he’d perhaps turn them into a Sworn In clone (god knows we don’t need more bands like that); or it’d just be the usual. Turns out, unsurprisingly, it’s more or less the latter.

If Ocean Sleeper’s music did nothing for you in the past with their 2017 EP and ‘Worthless•No Purpose‘, don’t expect this new song to “wow” you. Unmistakable allusions to The Amity Affliction and other bands of that ilk are also fully apt here. Yet the funny thing is that with ‘Misery‘, not even Amity sound like this anymore. Similarly, guitarist/clean singer Ionei Heckenberg still sounds like a carbon copy of Ahren Stringer. I’m not sure if it’s put on or if it’s how he naturally sounds, but either way, that vocal style will forever place Ocean Sleeper’s music within a set category. Along with all of the expectations and comparisons that come with it. For better and for worse.

However, I must point out some slight changes here. For one, during this song’s breakdown in the mid-section, you can hear frontman Karl Spiessl diving a bit deeper into his lower range. It’s definitely not the best vocal performance you’ll hear from this genre in 2018, but it’s clear he’s trying to go harder with his voice. And it’d also be pretty poor form of me to not mention that the piece is harmonically and melodically the most interesting thing the group has done yet. (Suss the guitar work throughout the entire track). Granted, that’s not saying a whole lot, and the song itself doesn’t really go anywhere either, but there has been the odd step forward for the band with ‘Save Me‘. Therefore, this is probably their best work yet (ha, there’s the out-of-context pull quote), though I’m just not sure it’s enough.

Ocean Sleeper, 2018.

When it comes to their forthcoming 2019 release, I’m really hoping we’ll see an actual adventurous sound for Ocean Sleeper in terms of influences and performances. Y’know, some real curveballs that will see them step outside of this drab box they remain within. Then again, if they’ve been able to cultivate a decent level of popularity within the local Australian scene off the back of their generic style, then I doubt their metaphorical train will be stopping anytime soon to pick up fresh ideas. (Let alone a full-time bassist).

Think whatever you want about lyrics such as “Drinking down my demons has lost its taste“,  butI’m not about to say these lyrics dealing with alcoholism, personal demons, and losing one’s way are bad or anything of the sort. As addiction, excess and depression can all indeed be hellish experiences, the latter of which I know all too well. However, this new song’s thematic impact feels stunted overall, as none of this lyricism is reflected in the track’s accompanying music video – the vehicle upon which it first hit the interwebs. The video was directed and edited by Neal Walters, who does a lot of great work, but with a muted greyscale colour filter overlaid and the band merely performing the song for the clip, this becomes yet another Ocean Sleeper video. One in which the band plays together in a room, looking about as bored as the viewer potentially may be; just waiting for the pin to drop for something interesting to happen. Perhaps this is due to a lack of time, budget, ideas or maybe even all of the above? Either way, much like someone reading my writing, it’s all about as engaging as watching paint fuckin’ dry. (Ionei no longer staring straight down the camera is a win for everybody, though).

Normally, here is where I’d say something witty or pun-related to do with the track in-question before ending the article altogether. But honestly, maybe just save yourselves instead. Of course, if you do wish to indulge, see below:

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