ALBUM REVIEW: Hikari – Oceans Ate Alaska

Fresh from the UK Tech Metal Fest Tour and appearances at Slam Dunk Festival and America’s Warped Tour last year, up-and-coming British metalcore band OCEANS ATE ALASKA are set to release their new album Hikari. With long-time friend of the band Jake Noakes picking up vocal duties, and Chris Turner’s drumming as sharp as ever, to say this record is a progression for the band would be an understatement.

2015’s Lost Isles received mostly positive feedback, but was consistently criticised for its lack of coherence. Without a shadow of a doubt, Hikari delivers an improvement on this. In their interview with Distorted Sound, the band stated that “…it was written as a whole movement. A lot of bands will write music and do every song just the same because that’s just their style – we try to do it so it progresses and it’s not just the same thing.” This forward-thinking attitude is reflected in the flow of the album, and results in arguably its most positive feature: how listenable it is. Whilst they aren’t breaking any genre-boundaries in terms of their musical style, with screamed verses and clean choruses typical of most metalcore bands, their progression as a band through this record is evident.

The band stated that they channelled Japanese culture in the writing of Hikari, which is obvious through many of the track titles – Benzaiten, Hansha, Ukiyo and others. However, the use of Japanese instrumentation is also audible, which is a professional and welcome addition to the mix. Before its release on July 28th through Fearless Records, the band have released two singles; Covert and Escapist. As well as Deadweight, these singles come through as the highlights of the album. The technicality and musicianship of the band is demonstrated consistently throughout the record, however this is most evident on instrumental track Ukiyo, with a drumming segment from Chris Turner that is particularly impressive.

The contrast between the brutality of Jake Noakes’ unclean vocals provides a stark contrast to his boyish clean vocals, which may be a reason to put people off their new sound. Whilst metalcore is usually supposed to blend the clean and unclean in a flowing manner, there is a sense of polarity with regard to these moments on Hikari. This is not to say his clean vocals are not put to good use on the album, the song Hikari features a soft section layered over with clean vocals for the first half of the song, progressing into a heavier second section that flows very well overall.

Whether or not this album is enough to impress those who aren’t fans of metalcore is yet to be seen, however, for fans of the band and within the genre, Hikari will surely make an impression. It should certainly be expected that they will be playing much bigger stages in the next few years, even if this record is but a step in the direction of the sound OCEANS ATE ALASKA would need to really break through.

Rating: 7/10

Hikari - Oceans Ate Alaska

Hikari is set for release on July 28th via Fearless Records.

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