British metalcore legends Oceans Ate Alaska have returned with their third record, entitled ‘Disparity’. This marks their first full release since their sophomore release ‘Hikari’ back in 2017. This album also marks the return of their former frontman James Harrison, after the departure of Jake Noakes. This record just shows how this band is back to show what’s up when it comes to metalcore, and even deathcore at certain times on the album. The album also goes back to more heavier roots of the band, and melody coming second to it.
The first two tracks, “Paradigm” and “Nova” really set the tone of what we’re in for on this record. Head bopping riffs and even dropout breakdowns, this band isn’t afraid to change up tempo in the middle of a song for better effect. You can really hear just how melodic the riff packs a punch in “Paradigm” and it really comes across beautifully. The singing at the end of “Nova” also gives the song an interesting structure and contrast to the brutal nature that came before it. One shoutout that has to be said is to vocalist James Harrison and just how unbelievable his vocals are on this whole thing, and how they’ve always been. Deathcore vocalist can learn a thing or two from him, in how effortless it feels for him to sound so brutal. “Metamorph” comes right after and just gives us a good time, not being too out there and keeping the groove of it all throughout the song. It feels right this being their comeback song with the first line delivered by Harrison being ‘Did you miss me when I weren’t around?’. Yes we did, very much.
Track four and five, “Shallow Graves” and “Sol” really give me vibes of OAA that I haven’t had since 2015 on their debut ‘Lost Isles’ and sorely missed it and happy to have it back here. The melodic nature of “Shallow Graves” at the beginning and end of the track, while filling the middle with absolute nasty riffs and vocals feels truly what makes this band special. This continues onto “Sol” as the melodic nature is felt throughout with Harrison’s singing and melody-infused riffs. These are all akin to it’s sweet lyrics about being with someone who makes you feel alive, something we’d all relate to. “Dead Behind the Eyes” comes barreling through next, and it packs more than just a punch with a deathcore inspired riff with blast beats to back it. Another shoutout that has to be said here especially, but on this whole record is Chris Turner. His drumming for this band has always been on another level, one would think he’s a machine but he’s just that good and it shows in spades throughout this entire album. Eric Vanlerberghe of I Prevail also provides a much fitting, and impressive vocal feature on this song that doesn’t make it shy away from how insane the track is.
We’re on to the final stretch of the album with the final five tracks, with “Plague Speech” to keep the heavy consistent. While a banger, I think one tiny criticism I have to this record is that their choruses or vocally melodic parts have a little left to be desired on some of these tracks. I will say Harrison‘s high screams on this song in particular are insane and it’ll certainly remind people of why he’s as good as people say he is. The title track and interlude “Disparity” leading into “Empty Space” really give this album a nice melodic break and the vocals are more raw and vulnerable here. It’s impressive this band being able to set a mood and keep it for the entire track, all dependent on the instrumentals as a whole. The penultimate track “New Dawn” provides a short, but chaotic nearly two minutes. It’s sure to really bring out the craziness of a crowd when they play this live, and good god…those lows. The final track, “Hallucinogen” provides more of what we’ve gotten previously in the record, to a lesser degree but gives us a decent end to this wild album.
This album is sure to re-introduce themselves into the metalcore and deathcore scene, and hopefully to return to the US one of these days. This band is not here to play, and this record really shows why they’re a step ahead of most of their peers in the scene. Oceans Ate Alaska will be touring the UK with InVisions, Resolve, and Kubrick to open. Be sure to catch them when they come to your city, and be prepared for how hard these songs are gonna go over live.
Check out the video for “Nova” below.