Ocean Grove – The Rhapsody Tapes
Released: 3rd February 2017
Luke Holmes – Vocals
Jimmy Hall – Guitar
Matthew Henley – Guitar
Dale Tanner – Bass & Clean Vocals
Sam Bassal – Drums
Facebook: Ocean Grove
OCEAN GROVE are certainly making a statement with their releases – determinedly branding themselves as an entirely new genre – ‘Odd World’. Declaring oneself as a revolutionary, a presence unlike any seen before…it’s a risky endeavour, one sure to attract criticism and come off as highbrow. Thing is, though – I’m not so sure they failed.
For THE RHAPSODY TAPES, amongst its fervour and eclecticism, does often feel fresh in a way that metalcore hasn’t felt in a while. A disclaimer: evidence would suggest that I find myself predisposed to genre-mixing metal acts – try having a conversation about music with me without ENTER SHIKARI coming up – and so it’s possible that I fall right into OCEAN GROVE’s intended market with this release. A counter argument can be made, however, that the sheer range of genre present on the LP means that a metal fan of any bent can pick it up and enjoy it, finding tracks which speak to them.
Much ado has been made of OCEAN GROVE’s self-produced style, with the trendy ‘bedroom producer’ terminology often applied. I can’t speak as to the accuracy of these claims, but the production quality of the record, in co-operation with the inherent song writing freedom it provides work in tandem to contribute to the aforementioned unique sound. Bouncing between post-hardcore, metalcore, nu-metal, rap metal, and weird shoegaze-esque dream state sequences, the group wasted no time shoving every idea they had onto paper, and turning it up to 11. Every nuance is thought out, ever hook tweaked to the nth degree.
Take, for example, the middle of the album one-two punch of “SLOW SOAP SOAK” into single “THESE BOYS LIGHT FIRES“. The former an offbeat, nu-metal ish rap, carried by battering drums and atmospheric production, soaking in sound design, with the latter existing in an entirely separate universe, slamming you with fast paced, straight-up post-hardcore riffs and screams. The latter is definitely catchier, more energetic, and has a slammin’ solo…and yet I can’t help but agree that the tracks in conjunction or more powerful than the sum of their parts. The juxtaposition between the two evidences GROVE’s skillset, and the appreciation for each track increases thusly. Jumping to “BEERS“, the most straight-up metalcore song of the album, the band evidences that their range doesn’t mean that their ability to write in a single genre is compromised. This song grabs you by the teeth and forces you to hold on as it takes you for a ride through fast rhythms, whipping through breakdowns, slinging into a climactic ending. This song will absolutely slap live.
We head into “THUNDERDOME“, which starts a little slower, atmospheric vocals beckoning you in, almost sensually (as sensual as Aussie core can be). Affected, vaguely rap-sounding vocals heighten excitement, before the song diverts into a four-on-the-floor conclusion, pounding its way to a finish. Lead single “INTIMATE ALIEN“, one of the most nu-metal leaning tracks, grooves like a rotary tiller, nonstop rap vocals bringing immense energy to the track. GROVE have clearly taken inspiration from Aussie hip-hop – then given Aussie hip-hop the middle finger and written something that’s actually quality (or maybe I’ve just heard too much ILLY on mainstream radio). “FROM DALIGHT” starts to close up the album with a psy-trance influenced harangue, the lyrics ‘pieces of me fall far from the line’ repeated and repeated, past the point of annoyance, to comfort. This tricks you into comfort, before GROVE slam you with what is likely my favourite track on the album, “STRATOSPHERE LOVE“.
Starting off quietly, a lower tempo than everything before it, softly vocaled, STRATOSPHERE LOVE quickly hits you with a slow, djent-y groove, one which is all the more powerful after hearing the previous tracks on the album. Now-familiar nu-metal rap vocals come over the top, the track gets slightly anthemic, before hitting again with the groove. The track crunches all the way into the final, emotional track, “HITACHI“. Finished on a quiet note is a statement – GROVE are truly stepping out of any -core boundaries. They don’t need your approval, they’ll end how they like. Now, let’s talk about “MR CENTIPEDE“. Did you know you can fit a poignant musical epic into four minutes and twenty seconds? Neither did I. If you only listen to one track, make it this one. Catchy, energetic choruses bookend intimate verses, with raw emotion exploding behind every minute. I fully expect this one to be GROVE’s own “CARRION” at live shows. Hordes of fans will be screaming ‘I’m the same…and I feel alright’ (once this album explodes, which it definitely will).
THE RHAPSODY TAPES is a hard-hitting, eclectic album…but it’s also a fun time. And for that, I’m willing to give GROVE a lot of leeway. It’s clear that their genre-invention dreams aren’t causing them to fall into a trap of elitism, rather, the sense is a group earnestly trying to pour their all into a record. Similarly, the inherent ‘fun’ of the album makes me happy to forgive what is perhaps its only main shortcoming – its diverse sound almost works to its disadvantage. Variety is the spice of life, yes, but I did often find it slightly difficult to settle into a listening rhythm, with expectations so constantly reverted. Maybe this will lessen once the album beds into consciousness? It’s hard to judge so far.
Definitely give it a listen – and definitely catch them live whenever they’re next near you. I absolutely plan to.
Ocean Grove – The Rhapsody Tapes tracklist
1. What I Love About A Natural Woman
3. Thunderdome (ft. Running Touch)
4. Intimate Alien
5. The Wrong Way
6. Slow Soap Soak
7. These Boys Light Fires
8. When You’re This High, You Can Say What You Like
9. Mr Centipede
10. From Dalight
11. Stratosphere Love
The Rhapsody Tapes is Out Now!
Review by Michael Parente