Being As An Ocean
Being As An Ocean
Being As An Ocean has an odd history. The group’s debut, Dear G-d, was a pretty outstanding take on the Hundredth/Defeater style of melodic hardcore, with Joel Quartuccio’s passionate vocal delivery being of particular note. His mix of spoken word and traditional pained yelled/screamed vocals painted passionate tapestries that won the hearts and minds of fans and tumblr blogs worldwide. With the addition of guitarist/singer Michael McGough (of the fantastic The Elijah), Being As An Ocean’s sophomore record, How We Both Wondrously Perish tinkered with the style, accentuating Michael’s beautifully emotional tenor as well as a somewhat irritating sense of grandeur. Instead of punchy, passionate tunes, the second album seemed to usher in a band trying to hard to push the envelope. Songs like “Death’s Great Black Wing Scrapes the Air” and “We Drag the Dead on Leashes” were two of the best songs of 2014, but the band’s push for more resulted in an uneven listen and a disappointing second half.
Fast forward just over 13 months, and Being As An Ocean are back. They seem to have understood the need to remember what worked for them, at the expense of fully utilizing Michael’s voice in a couple instances. The result is an extremely consistent listen (unlike How We Both Wondrously Perish), albeit an album where the highs feel less grand; the full thematic scope is duller even if the music is sharper. Some of that has to do with Matt McClellan’s production work, which is much harsher and more live sounding. This works for the band, as it allows the hardcore edge shine through in ways that were mostly absent from HWBWP, but this sonic urgency washes over everything, lessening Michael’s vocal impact this time around. He still has some wonderful moments, but they are typically relegated to hooks and choruses, as Being As An Ocean has gone all-in on the back-to-basics approach. It’s not completely a problem, as “Sleeping Sicarii” and “St. Peter” utilize a master-level understanding of simple songwriting. It’s just that, when they mix things up they are at their best. “Judas, Our Brother” is a short song, but by playing with the formula a bit, it makes it all the more effective.
Being As An Ocean is an interesting study in progression by regression. By reigning in some of the more progressive and musically interesting aspects of How We Both Wondrously Perish, the band was able to focus on a unified sound: punchy, pensive bouts of melodic hardcore. It’s not a novel concept, but with this much emotion and focus, Being As An Ocean seems on the road to something truly special. They aren’t there yet, but after a slight recalculation, the destination appears on the horizon. (Nicholas Senior)