ALBUM REVIEW – “How We Both Wondrously Perish” by Being As An Ocean

Coming in from the more ‘intellectual’ side of the post-hardcore spectrum, Being As an Ocean attracted acclaim for their well-crafted debut Dear G-d in 2012, vocalist Joel Quartuccio’s exploration of his spirituality over mature melodic hardcore tunes capturing the attention of many. Recent lineup changes have seen replacement of their drummer and rhythm guitarist, the new man in the latter slot Michael McGough also bringing clean vocals to the table for the first time for the band. Consequently and understandably, this is a quite difficult animal to its predecessor. More varied textures and instrumentation are introduced that don’t always work, but the experimentation on show does keep the listener guessing as to what will come next.

One can tell from even the song titles that this is a band with big ideas, and the kick-off song ‘Mediocre Shakespeare’ immediately makes clear the fusion of measured hardcore bite and lyrical verbosity. The spoken word sections that made BAAO stand out from the crowd on their debut are back, but don’t have as much impact this time around nor are they typically as well constructed lyrically, the very well-written title track aside. It does feel at times that the band are trying to hide less interesting musical patterns behind these moments of lyrical wandering, as is the case on ‘Even the Dead Have Their Tasks’. On the other hand when they want to get aggressive they do so with gusto, though it’s the band’s use of melody that’s most intriguing.

Some of the finest moments of How We Both Wondrously Perish are the interlude sections between songs (and sections of songs) that drift into fully ambient territory, these delicate touches not only providing respite from the screamed sections but standing out as legitimate highlights. The closing, restrained (even in their titles) final couplet ‘Mothers’ and ‘Natures’ are wonderful slices of melody that feature a beautiful brass solo and the best use of clean vocals on the record respectively. McGough’s performance on the record is decent, but the melodies he sings are often uninteresting through much of the album. Only as it ends does he truly shine.

As the final song fades out in a haze of distortion with twinkling undercurrents, it leaves the impression of untapped potential. Being As an Ocean could very much prosper with the elements that they bring to play, but on How We Both Wondrously Perish these elements don’t gel well enough together to create an album as enjoyable as its predecessor. Not quite yet up to the same standard as similar acts Pianos Become the Teeth and Defeater, they’re potential ones to watch for sure.

Rating: 6/10

[Michael Bird]

‘Death’s Great Black Wing Scrapes the Air’

‘L’exquisite Douleur’


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