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ICYMI: We Are Oceans

December 8, 2015

woodsmoke

We Are Oceans‘s Woodsmoke is billed as a post-metal album (and they do ratchet up to a thoroughly metallic stomp at points), but their sense of restraint and impressive melodic songwriting ability point toward a wider audience than that subgenre. The album contains four songs, three of which start out with very sparse arrangements. “Dead Winds” and “Pressed Flowers” actually start off with clean electric guitar before unfolding into larger arrangements. I purposely am avoiding the word “build” because it would evoke a certain type of post-rock that We Are Oceans doesn’t subscribe to. This isn’t “cinematic” in a sense that it could score the upbeat end of a film: these tunes instead are pensive, thoughtful, searching, careful, and measured.

The bass plays a significant role in these tunes: for one, the whole thing is mixed to be bass-heavy, so even the guitars and drums have a low-slung power to them; secondly, the bass is particularly prominent for a “post-metal” outfit. “Dead Winds” give part of the melodic motion to the bass, while “Solstice” allows the bass to do a lot of work as well in the quieter sections. The louder sections of closer “Solstice” are memorable as well, as the quartet lets loose right from the get-go with speedy drums, soaring guitar riffs, and distorted rhythm guitar–but instead of blast away for the next 12 minutes, they drop out everything but the drums for a drum solo. This is not your ordinary post-rock/post-metal band. Woodsmoke is impressive in its songwriting and engineering: it’s an album of immaculately recorded and mixed instrumental music that can go full post-metal but prefers to deploy their abilities in the service of the “what’s around the next corner”-style surprise. If you’re into artsy instrumental rock with noisy bits, Woodsmoke will please you.

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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