The debut album from OCEANHOARSE has been a long time coming. The band has already released an EP, “Voluntary Bends,” and a live album from their last tour before the pandemic. Oh yeah, they’ve also hosted their own festival, Hoarsefest. Needless to say, fans are ready for a full studio release! Now backed by Noble Demon Records, there’s nothing to stop them. As such, they hosted a pre-listening event at The Riff in Helsinki on August 11th, 2021, to tease the new material, just before pandemic restrictions sadly cancelled their album release show at the end of the month. Check out our interview with Joonas Kosonen and Oskari Niemi here.
The evening started around 18:20 when the band gave a brief hello to their guests and thanked everyone for coming. They seemed very excited to see familiar faces and were understandably visibly excited about the album being released at long last.
The bar started playing the album, though admittedly we didn’t really notice as it wasn’t nearly loud enough. Fortunately, we were able to re-listen to the album after the fact. A nearly-one-minute jamming groovy intro, “Headfirst,” opened things before some familiar riffs: the studio rendition of “Locks,” which was the first new single after the release of their EP, “Voluntary Bends,” way back in 2020. What can I say that we haven’t already said? This song just rules. If you’re not convinced the first time, turn it up louder!
The first surprise already comes in the third track, “Betrayed By Light,” which is maybe the most melodic track the band has thus far released, proving that Joonas Kosonen isn’t just a rough screamer. Yet this foursome even make the most melodic songs heavy as hell as the instrumentalists all come together to create a really powerful track with an almost punky chorus. Then, speaking of power, “One With the Gun” is an utterly crushing track with a totally killer chorus, teasing us with a deeper and darker side of the while band’s sound and its relentless riffing.
We’re already pretty intimately familiar with “Reaching Skywards,” so I’ll just reiterate that this song fucking rules, both in music and lyrics. For a band that advertises themselves as pure heavy fucking metal, no bells and whistles, just a few songs into the album they’ve already teased listeners with a vast variety of vocal styles, sick riffs, pounding drums, and some of the most prominent bass in this “simple” four-piece classic heavy metal style. And it’s not just about the music, as the band clearly care about what they’re saying, so stop and listen not just to the music, but what these guys have to say. It’s worth hearing.
“Fields of Severed Dreams” is a straightforward, punchy – and again, sometimes punky – track with some really tight soloing and you really have to wonder what fuels Oskari Niemi, as he is just… going. The whole damn album. Start to finish, he’s like a fucking machine! Does he ever stop? Does he breathe? Is he human, or the most stylish drum machine of all time in hiding? Who fucking cares, because he is just on fire, all the time.
I am a little surprised that “The Oceanhoarse” didn’t actually make it onto this album, but the band can only revamp so many songs from their EPs and live albums. However, there are still elements of that live flare, such as “Submersed,” which is a short, ambient guitar-driven instrumental, yet still feels perfectly at home in its place halfway through the album. Then, the band completely remade one of their oldest tracks that originally featured Tommy Tuovinen of MYGRAIN, now with Joonas Kosonen: “The Intruder.” The MEGADETH-y riffing sound and crushing weight of the sound really come alive in this re-recording, along with the updated vocals, making it into a more modern and perhaps final OCEANHOARSE sound, solidified at last by its place on this album.
Kosonen‘s cleaner singing returns in “Fight for Tomorrow,” another straightforward yet utterly relentless song that doesn’t let go once it begins. Let’s also not forget bassist Jyri Helko, who makes sure that the riffing doesn’t get boring by making sure the bass is not just there to help keep the rhythm, but with an almost Lemmy-like spirit (not sound, spirit), he plays with his own style in such a rough heavy metal manner that it’s impossible for the bass to disappear into the background like it does with many bands.
The band released one more single to tease the album yesterday for “From Hell to Oblivion,” which came with a pretty cool music video that combines the band performing in a really nice set (decked out with the oceanhoarse) with Kosonen emerging from a lake, running as the Oceanhoarse drives around in a tank. You can watch yourself to see how it ends, but the song has great energy so it’s not surprising that they chose it for a single.
Don’t let the length of the album snatch your attention away, as the every-changing rhythm of “<<REW” is a surprise highlight towards the end, maintaining the album’s high quality. This is followed by the 55-second ambient instrumental title track that features lovely gentle soloing with some added base, closing smoothly on its own, but further introducing the final track. The album then closes with “The Damage,” whose name echoes the band’s live release, “The Damage is Done – Live!” This near-5-minute piece is a masterful closer to the album, wrapping up the whole release with the longest and perhaps most powerful track of them all, combining a little bit of everything that they had shown off before in one magnificent package.
Sometimes talent and persistence truly win the day. We remember Ben Varon from AMORAL, from both the original era, the Ari Koivunen days, the reunion times, and their final show. He has always been one of the best guitarists in Finland but hadn’t been in the right band. Well, it seems like this guitar hero has finally found the right place for his riffing, because everything OCEANHOARSE throws out there is as fresh as it is furious, catchy, and fucking heavy. Congratulations to both them and Noble Demon Records for the collaboration – it seems we have a lot to look forward to from both the band and label!
- Betrayed By the Light
- One with the Gun
- Reaching Skywards
- Field of Severed Dreams
- The Intruder
- Fight for Tomorrow
- From Hell to Oblivion
- Dead Reckoning
- The Damage
Noble Demon Records