For Fans Of
Yo, remember when Ocean Grove used to underwhelm and sound like every other goddamn band out there? Well this reviewer does, (see their debut EP ‘Outsider’ as a reference) but now he’s happy to report that the Melbourne quintet has carved out a new sound, which they assertively make their own on ‘Black Label’.
This new and improved Ocean Grove is heard, seen, and felt right away with the short, heavy brooding opener of ‘Backbone’. It states loud and clear that this is not the Ocean Grove you may know or remember. Despite its short length, the impact it has is monumental, and is easily one of the best songs on offer. Then ‘B.L.U.D.’ comes round and fucks your world up with far heavier guitars and vocals and even when the cleans come in, it still carries so much grit and weight to it that you’ll buckle at the knees like a Taking Back Sunday song (brownie points if you get that reference).
But, how would you describe the band’s new sound to a friend who is only familiar with this or has no idea who the fuck you are talking about? Well first off, there are still the metalcore norms, such as chugs, breakdowns, clean vocals etc. but there’s a far stronger sense of groove and pacing than ever before. The influences in the instrumentation from bands such as Korn and Limp Bizkit and a slew of other nu-metal acts from the 90’s/naughties are clear as day. A good comparison of the band’s current sound in reference to a contemporary artist would be with My Ticket Home’s later material. As for the vocals, they range anywhere from mid-range yells and screams, to low, guttural growls, to eerie spoken/whispered vocals, to clean singing, and this makes for a really good variety. All of this creates an incredibly engaging, consistent release, one that is nearly impossible not to hardcore stomp and head bang to (just try and resist it when the end of ‘I Told You To Smile‘ hits).
Unlike their last EP, there is no filler, nor are there any weak links holding down the pack for us hungry critics to surround and devour. Each track is just as good as the track before it and its predecessor. Furthermore, as is key for any good hardcore/metalcore releases in this day and age, a minimum of two guest vocals must appear on a new EP or album (sarcasm alert!). First up for ‘Black Label‘ is the former and arguably better Northlane vocalist Adrian Fitipaldes, who lends his always solid lows to ‘Strange Talk’ for what is easily the heaviest moment of the EP. Dream On, Dreamer/Young Lions’ own Zachary Britt comes along on ‘You Know Something We Don’t’ and the dude fills out the track ideally. Nice pulls guys, nice pulls.
Finally, there is this omnipresent tone running throughout ‘Black Label’, which can only really be described as this weird, dirty…darker…experimental hardcore vibe. This subtle amalgamation of various heavy styles and sounds makes it quite hard to describe at times. However, with that being said, that is arguably its strongest drawcard as you’ll listen to this EP multiple times and it really is what makes this release such a great fucking listen.
Ocean Grove are writing mainly for themselves now, and that’s not only good for them, but it’s good for us as listeners as they’ve made something truly special here. It may not sink in right away, but once you’re exposed to ‘Black Label’, it’s hard not to come back for more like an addict looking for their next glorious fix. From ‘Backbone’ to ‘167 Damillia’, this EP is gold the whole way through. Oh and always remember; fuck reinventing the wheel; just reinvent yourselves and never look back, that’s what will get you far lads.
3. Strange Talk(Feat. Adrian Fitipaldes)
5. Cold Skin
6. You Know Something We Don’t
7. I Told You Smile
8. 167 Damillia