Album Review: Hikari by Oceans Ate Alaska

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  1. Benzaiten (feat. Alex Teyen)
  2. Sarin
  3. Covert
  4. Hansha
  5. Deadweight
  6. Veridical
  7. Entrapment
  8. Hikari
  9. Birth-Marked
  10. Ukiyo (feat. Josh Manuel)
  11. Escapist

 

Oceans Ate Alaska caught my attention through the Punk Goes Pop series that Fearless Records does regularly when they covered the Beyonce song “Drunk in Love” – its still one of my favorite covers ever from the series.

The Birmingham, UK, technical metal quintet’s second full-length album, Hikari, translates to “Light” in English. It follows a lyrical and musical theme rooted in Samurai mythology while blending traditional Japanese instruments with Oceans Ate Alaska’s face-melting riffs.

OAA shine their brightest on “Hansha” and the title track, “Hikari” in my listening. Hansha shows the group’s knack for bringing meaningful melody into extremely heavy songs and would be the song I’d show to someone if I were introducing them to the band.  Its one of the songs from the album that has the most singing in it and the catchiest chorus.

Don’t get me wrong – they bring the heat on the breakdown, and there’s no mistaking this band for something other than technical metal at its best. But here they show how they carefully craft each song around a killer melody and just because they have metal chops, they don’t forget the impact a pop sensibility can have on a song.

The title track “Hikari” is not indicative of most of the music on the album, and maybe thats why it stood out to me so much. It starts with some mellow jazz riffs and piano before eventually coming in with some mind-blowing drumming and singing from Jake Noakes. You forget that this is a British band until the singing comes in.

The song builds and builds until it reaches a driving cacophony of excellence from the band. It gives each member of the band to show off a little bit in how technically-talented they each are at their instrument. The melody of the chorus mixed with the backing gang-vocals makes for an incredibly fun listen.

So with Hikari, come for the breakdowns, leave with an expanded palette. There is grinding heaviness, there is melody, there is singing, there is thoughtfulness.

If you don’t count yourself as a metal fan, this probably isn’t for you. But if you do, you’re going to be satisfied with Hikari.

 

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