Ocean Districts ‘Expeditions’ CD/DD & Outwailed ‘Observant’ CD/DD 2014
Every webzine I end up reviewing for (I’m up to about number four- no, I’m not a model employee) I always end up overloaded by post-metal. I guess it’s a genre that’s easy to write up well in the press release? Yeah, I keep on volunteering for albums that go on about “melodious, majestic soundscapes amidst distorted chaos” and time after time I end up scratching my head, disappointed in myself because I’ve listened to a sub-par Isis for the 40000th time.
So let’s get two competent but not-in-any-way-remarkable albums done at the same time, I figure a FIGHT TO THE DEATH REVIEW CAGEMATCH would be a pretty cool way to do it. Or a less boring way.
Round One – The Saddest Chord
Whether it’s a minor seventh or that none-more-post-hardcore C2 chord, everyone needs that sad chord if you’re dreaming of being a support band for that one time God Is An Astronaut rolls through your town.
The first round is a particularly easy one – Ocean Districts find a way to end almost every riff with their C2 chord*, presumably giving the band members a point at which to throw their head back and be all like, yearning and shit. Outwailed seem remarkably keen on using power chords in their slower, beard-ier attack. Clearly, Outwailed would frown a bit more in their band photos.
Winner – Ocean Districts by a mile.
*It may not be a C2 chord, that’s based on standard tuning.
Round Two – We’re Fucken Heavy, Maaaaaan
I blame Mogwai for the “we must attempt to rock the fuck out even if we don’t really want to” thing that’s in many a post- album, what with ‘Batcat’ and ‘Glasgow Mega Snake’ being remarkably riffy tunes. So yeah, this is attempted here by both bands and here we find Outwailed coming out ahead comfortably enough.
A few of their songs have some proper heavy moments – the start of ‘Ephemeral’ is pretty crunchy, a big Cult Of Luna meets Neurosis deal, and throughout there’s stuff that is crunchy and weighty – that big, almost anti-melodic feeling that Neurosis do so well (or at least, so often?!). It would help if the production was big enough to really pack a punch, but oh well – we’ve all heard worse.
Ocean Districts try a few chugs and busy sections (‘Endurance’ a good enough example) but never get close enough. The production is a remarkably toothless beast – it doesn’t sound bad but it doesn’t sound terribly full either. It’s the “riffs” though that lose this round – they’re all very consonant and melodic, all rather bouncy and energetic, and would again suggest that these guys would rather look all plaintive and wear the right kind of hoodie then actually throw out a proper heavy moment.
Winner – Outwailed
Round Three – Forgettable-Ness
Now this, my friends, is a fight to the death, an excellent closing round. Both bands – different in their approach to the long-form guitar instrumental genre. Both bands – fairly well incapable of writing anything that will stick in your head. Which band is the least forgettable?
I’d have to hand this to Outwailed again. There’s many a problem with their music – far too much debt to Cult Of Luna, growled vocals where there shouldn’t be any, overlong songs, bad production – but one feels there is a genuine identity in the bands music. There is the occasional moment, typically in the first two songs, that you remember. They aren’t afraid to be ugly, and they try a few different things, some of which work alright.
Ocean District, however… Man, I will admit to not being the biggest fan of God Is An Astronaut – solid enough, rather pretty, but not really saying anything worthwhile, but those guys sound positively visionary compared to these guys! It’s just boring, predictable part after boring, predictable part, with nothing standing out at all. Those same minor key “riffs”, chord progressions and clean guitars that have been driven into the ground by a million other bands that’ve done the upbeat post- stuff that last few years.
Winner – Outwailed.
Now, we can talk about who won the cagematch but the loser is obvious – the listener. If someone holds a gun to your head and makes you pick between these two albums, pick Outwailed, otherwise, go and listen to something else. Think on the bright side, at least you weren’t made to write a review about them!
Label: Self Released
Ocean Districts: Facebook | Bandcamp
Outwailed: Facebook | Bandcamp
Scribed by: Caspian Yurisich