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Oceans Ate Alaska – Hikari

Release Date: 28th July 2017

Label: Fearless Records

If you’re already familiar with Oceans Ate Alaska you’ll know that they’re not your normal kind of band. In fact what you know about 99% of bands can be straight up thrown out of the window. Hailing from in or around Birmingham, the place where it all started, Oceans Ate Alaska have set about changing the playbook with a style of metalcore that few would even dare to attempt with even fewer garnering the success that these guys have achieved.

In the last few years OAA have played the Warped Tour across the States and replaced former frontman James Harrison with newbie Jake Noakes. This change appears to have free’d up whatever it was that was keeping the band from pushing on and Hikari is the first piece of evidence we’ve seen that shows this to have been the correct decision. From the opening growls of ‘Benzaiten’ to the cleaner singing throughout the album, it all feels a little bigger and lot more cohesive.

When a band’s tagline says the band “push sonic boundaries” and that they aim to take listeners on an “emotional journey through unpredictable arrangements” you  know each track is going to be a challenging listen. Immediately this is evident with both ‘Sarin’ and ‘Deadweight’ as the ferocity and tempo comes and goes within seconds across both tracks. The songs sandwiched in the middle, ‘Covert’ and ‘Hansha’, do follow a more conventional format for the most part.

As with most things in life that are challenging, taking the time to truly invest yourself in this album will see you reap huge rewards. There is something for all metal fans on show here, or at least the fans with minds open to evolving genres. The title track comes with such a contrasting energy to it that it feels like a completely different album and the deeper you get into the album the more technical skill is displayed. From a bass solo to frantic scales, drum beats that have to be listened to three or four times to comprehend, this album is as intricate as anything you will hear this year.

Some will connect with Hikari straight away, for others it may take some time. So my advice here is for you to listen to this album when it comes out, then listen to it again, then again and then, maybe, once more. It is so worth it though as I have found out over the past week. Dive in!

Rating: 8/10

Recommended Tracks: Deadweight, Escapist, Sarin