Whether or not we’ve found it within ourselves yet, we all have an expressive outlet. Despite my large collection of music, my medium is spoken word poetry. I’ve been doing it for years, but it’s always discouraging to me when the artistry gets noticed before the art itself. Sure, the performance aspect is cool; for me, though, it’s all about what is being said. It’s what means something to me, and I hope for it to be transmitted to others as well.
Then there are bands, like melodic hardcore outfit Being As An Ocean, who understand just the meaning of expression and perfectly balance the artistry and art, and that’s why they mean so much to so many people. To say there isn’t something special about the way these guys convey themselves would be a lie. I can’t help but sense an emotion with every lyric, or feel chills with every guitar riff; it’s inevitable to me anymore. So after fanboying over their new record, How We Both Wondrously Perish, for days on end, I finally sank down to the surface and realized that it might not just be me: this release really is something special.
It’s hard to righteously encapsulate this marvel of an album. Being As An Ocean brings out a whole new dynamic – a sincere movement from their first album, Dear G-d…, and a natural succession of ideas and songwriting methods in general. The addition of rhythm guitarist and clean vocalist Michael McGough (formerly of The Elijah) makes the choruses pop, and adds an entire new hum to the already-pristine melodies. The tracks bring an ambient vibe throughout, emphasizing the beauty of the quintet’s musical approach through feedback, soaring chords, acoustic guitar strums, and piano. Frontman Joel Quartuccio maintains his hard edge vocally, but alongside McGough and the gliding instrumentation, the group has a powerful aesthetic.
Within the art, Being As An Ocean continues to write about darkness and spiritual battles, and in a forward-thinking way. In “Death’s Great Black Wing Scrapes The Sky”, Quartuccio shakes the earth as he screams about topics such as human trafficking and post-partum depression. “The Poets Cry For More” is the peak, and man, it is mountainous. McGough’s silvery singing voice absolutely soars, and melodies fight to match Quartuccio’s mighty screams. His words aren’t just heard; they’re echoed. The range of feelings, from heartache to ambition, is made tangible with everything he says. This is a bold record thematically, revolving around relationships in and with the world and with God in general. The lyrics branch out, and somehow, the songs still feel so intimate. They connect, and most of all, they inspire.
Every single moment on this record is sensational, with an emphasis on its infinite impact. There’s McGough transitioning “L’exquisite Douleur” from its chants back to its magical chorus. There’s the chorus of “We Drag The Dead On Leashes” in general, with its guitars that staccato their way behind the vocal cries. There’s “Even The Dead Have Their Tasks,” a song set for repeat because of its hurricane of solitude. And, of course, there are the last two tracks: incredibly diverse in make-up, yet deeply personal for their mellowness. Ambient-rock epic “Natures” takes genre labels off Perish and leaves an amalgamation of pure emotion, portrayed in any means necessary.
The closer’s opening line sums up the album from an artistic point of view: “I have to break the cycle.” It’s hard to really see change when we’re all so stuck in ourselves, but as Being As An Ocean strives to press on, they believe the world can follow. And as I continue to write and perform poetry, I’ll do the same. There’s no complacency to be found on this album – just hope.
While actions may speak louder than words, Being As An Ocean’s words speak pretty darn loud, and on their second release, How We Both Wondrously Perish, there’s a deafening resonance and inevitable connection that reminds me of some of my favorite albums of all-time: Brand New‘s Deja Entendu, Finch‘s What It Is to Burn, Underoath‘s They’re Only Chasing Safety. Like the album title, every track is wondrous, and endless in this wondrousness. It’s really early in the year, but I have confidence you won’t run into another hardcore release as good as this one in 2014 and even beyond that. Perish is just that good.
Melodic Hardcore | InVogue Records