“Seek the antithesis: in any art form we engage with, there is need for inventive thinking that goes against uninspired standards. We grew up on music that bred fun and passion, perhaps that notion has been lost along the way”.
Thus begins ‘The Rhapsody Manifesto’, Melbourne sextet Ocean Grove’s online pledge to their fans on the release of their superbly divergent The Rhapsody Tapes (UNFD) début. It is a pledge that not only does the band live up to, but one that has led to sparkling results. With a melodic post-hardcore rock at their centre, Ocean Grove explode in a variety of directions, at times calling to mind the slick metalcore of Sempiternal (RCA) by Bring Me The Horizon on the raging first-track-proper, ‘Beers’, letlive on the delicate and subtle closing pairing of ‘Stratosphere Love’ and ‘Hitachi’, and everything in between and more, with a rare ability to be able to create hooks in their music without sacrificing themselves to a saccharine chorus.
Augmented by an ideal production job from drummer Sam Bassal, the guitars crunch and shimmer in a way Devin Townsend Project albums bring the metal grit to scuff up the smooth, the bass aims low and pummels the gut, none more so than when channelling Fieldy during the nu-metal tinged groovefest ‘Intimate Alien’, and Luke Holmes reflects his band mates ability to excel across the board, switching from laconic grunge drawl, startlingly reminiscent of Silverchair’s Daniel Johns on ‘The Wrong Way’, to aggressive barks, at each occasion delivering exactly what is required by the song.
Breaking up the album with three separate beats-based tracks, the best moments are when the electronics are interspersed, as ‘Thunderdome’, featuring studio member Running Touch, shuffles from an oh-so-cool-and-classy first third to a driving, raging anthem.
It says something about the overly formulaic, staid and vanilla state of modern rock that Ocean Grove have been praised for not worrying about being different, but the confidence with which they consciously seek to avoid being pigeonholed is overshadowed only by the calibre of their output, and that deserves plaudits. Having placed themselves boldly into a wide open field and ensured there are no boundaries, providing Ocean Grove can maintain their songwriting chops, and there really is no reason to suggest they won’t, the possibilities for their future successes are endless.