Release Date: Out Now
Review by Peyton Bernhardt
There are bands that can get away with mastering the ‘same old, same old’ conventions of a genre to build a following and there are bands that can’t. It’s that simple. Whether Ocean Grove could have continued to hone in on an unambitious and generic but satisfactory sound or not is no longer relevant – they’re not playing that game anymore, and new release Black Label proves it.
There’s a refreshing authenticity to the EP’s lack of repetition. This animal packs a punch in the fast-paced hardcore of B.L.U.D but is also capable of mutating, surprisingly into unanticipated gems like the hybrid experimental tune that is Cold Skin. Though brief opener Backbone justifies the impression that this release is a raw, fire-spitting monster, these tracks go further, with each song adding a new level of depth to the listener’s experience.
Despite its ominous instrumentals underpinning a delightfully angsty journey, the vocals on Black Label play a fundamental role in making this record enjoyable. It’s their dynamism that stands out the most, from dirty singing to deep uncleans. The mix of cleans and uncleans doesn’t sound random, unnecessary or generic, as is the case with the main vein of metalcore being dished out right now. Instead, appropriate transitions make the jumps sound like natural leaps and not illegitimate bounds. The addition of ex-Northlane frontman Adrian Fitipaldes to the ferocity and shattering bass lines of Strange Talk also colours the release with exciting nuance, while Dream On, Dreamer/Young Lions figure Zachary Britt lends himself to You Know Something We Don’t.
It’s always an impulse to root for local bands, the little guys with the capacity to be underdogs in the massive scene that is modern hardcore. Ocean Grove have come out with a release that gives us a reason to root for them. Fingers crossed that now that they’ve unleashed an EP that indicates that they deserve it, this band starts getting a little more credit.