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Sometimes less is more. That statement verifies itself when applied to Oceans Ate Alaska’s debut studio album ‘Lost Isles’. The record contains impressive musicianship and it’s remarkably nuanced, with multiple components that stand on their own admirably. Having said that, they morph into a weakness when tossed in together, inhibiting the cohesion of Oceans Ate Alaska’s otherwise excellent effort.
Each song on this record proposes a dive into different aspects of metalcore, and it honestly feels like Oceans Ate Alaska are competing in a pentathlon. ‘Blood Brothers’ drips with heaviness and dabbles in half breakdowns, with demonic vocals but also points where you can hear candid cracks in its metallic screams. Those are arguably the best, most genuine parts of the track. The last forty seconds proves that, and brings the song a much needed fluidity. Despite that, it still makes evident a flaw in the album –these jams are so complex that the sum of their parts isn’t as valuable as each component. Thus, the sound becomes tangled and convoluted.
Don’t get us wrong, they can be interesting to listen to. Take ‘High Horse’. Its tempo changes and vocal transitions are unpredictable and intriguing. But at the same time, tracks like ‘Linger’ make it feel like a shame that these tunes sound so scrambled together, because they are genuinely well-crafted.
On the topic of well-crafted music, ‘Floorboards’ is an impressor. Its almost pop-punk chorus combined back into a heavier line of playing is fresh and experimental, albeit slightly frustrating in its stunted dalliances into different genres. ‘Entity’ opens like a breakdown is about to go off, exhibiting that this album, though confusing, is enjoyable.
Another admirable aspect of ‘Lost Isles’ is its messages. Opener ‘Fourthirtytwo’ is an edit-together of tsunami warnings, which indicates an awareness on Oceans Ate Alaska’s part (not to mention the environmental implications of their name). ‘Downsides’ has a refreshingly positive touch, introducing itself by reminding us that “life’s not as bad as you make it out to be”.
Ultimately, ‘Lost Isles’ is the portfolio of a band with a lot of potential. ‘Vultures and Sharks’ uses (noticeably accented) cleans to provide a clearer structure, which seems to be what the rest of the album needs. ‘Mirage’ is bookended by skramz-sounding vocals which make themselves the highlight of the album. Hopefully, Oceans Ate Alaska’s experimental desires have been satisfied.
This LP is skillful and intriguing, yet simultaneously all over the place. If Oceans Ate Alaska just stayed true to a musical style and ran with it, it would exorcise the overly ambitious aspects of their sound and present a cohesive effort. That’s not to say that aspects of this album aren’t enjoyable – it just leaves you wanting so much more. We can’t wait for Oceans Ate Alaska to give it to us.
2. Blood Brothers
3. High Horse
4. Vultures and Sharks
10. Part of Something
11. Over the Edge
13. Lost Isles