A few months after signing to big name label Fearless Records in October, local lads Oceans Ate Alaska released their debut album Lost Isles this month. They’ve gained a big following across the pond in the States, which will have been helped by their appearance on the latest Punk Goes Pop album, covering Beyonce’s ‘Drunk In Love’ in their own fashion. It’s been a long three year wait since their last EP Into The Deep, and so I was excited to see what the last three years had matured them into.
My first impressions of the album could not have been any better, starting with ‘FourThirtyTwo’, an interesting introduction sampling cuts from multiple news reports on a tsunami hitting Alaska before kicking in to a really proggy instrumental section, including all of the classic Oceans Ate Alaska tropes; a true taster of what’s to come.
The traditional sound throughout the album flicks the switch between high-pitched melodies and sweeping guitars, and the low chugging rhythm guitars that accompany the absolute anarchy of the drumming. The second track on the album, ‘Blood Brothers’ was the first song released off the new album, featuring super catchy breakdown riffs and ferocious vocals (especially the hard-hitting breakdown line “taste the blood of your brothers”). Similarly, ‘Vulture and Sharks’ takes a little bit of everything that Oceans Ate Alaska had in Into The Deep, and it’s clear to see why it has been released as the first single off the album.
‘Floorboards’ is perhaps the best example of flicking the switch, going from heavy, cluttered metal verses to clean, melodic, pop punk choruses in the space of seconds. There’s no sort of pre-chorus or bridge that would lead the listener into thinking it would happen, but it does – and it works.
The interlude ‘Equinox’ represents a mellow, calming break in the album peppered with the occasional guitar sweep. Mirroring the whole ocean ‘theme’ going on with the album, it’s like a calm sea with the occasional wave that rocks the boat.
The album winds up with the song ‘Mirage’, whose atmosphere I fell in love with in seconds. It starts of gentle, layering harsh shouted vocals over a slow riff before easing into the more inevitable breakdowns. After hitting hard it tails off with more sampling, this time with storms and a downpouring of rain, I’m presuming as an epilogue to the apocalyptic opener. The actual music in the song is feelsy, catchy and has the vibes of a classic album closer, but the minute or so of storm sounds and morse code feels like forever.
Lost Isles exhibits a more refreshing approach to the metalcore scene, with technical and precise guitar work throughout the album, with the littered sweeps and sharp harmonies I found personally reminiscent of old school iwrestledabearonce. The insane drum work showcases the sheer talent of drummer Chris Turner, especially with the blast beats in ‘Linger’, a technique which just isn’t utilized enough in modern metal.
Whilst the album does start to seem repetitive after a while, this doesn’t take away from the fact that the progressive and tech metal influences add to the uniqueness of the music and stops the album from falling into the pit of generic metalcore music that gets churned out all too frequently. Add this to the catchy singing (which must go down as a victory to those of us unfortunately inflicted with a Brummie accent) and and the recipe for a stand-out sound is there in Lost Isles. For a debut album, it is killer.