Album Review: “Hikari” by Oceans Ate Alaska

Album Review: “Hikari” by Oceans Ate Alaska

Here’s my album review of “Hikari” by Oceans Ate Alaska, a Birmingham-based Metalcore band. I wanted to share my thoughts about this record because I found it really interesting, both from a musical and drummer’s perspective. Having learnt about it listening to the Modern Drummer Podcast, I thought it would be worth giving it a listen and checking out the Chris Turner’s drumming.

To my ears, the album sounds like a cross between Meshuggah and The Dillinger Escape Plan, yet more polished and less cohesive. Every track, as I wouldn’t necessarily called them songs, try to capture chaos in a bottle. Lightning fast changes in pace, frantic guitar riffs and drum grooves, furious vocals contrasted with clean singing makes for music that sounds like music for a generation with a short attention span. And whilst this may sound negative, I think it makes it really cutting-edge; the album is very much of its zeitgeist.

Coming from a slightly different heavy metal background, to me the tracks don’t seem to go anywhere, but perhaps it might be because I’m more of a traditionalist. But then again, I don’t dislike what I’m hearing and neither am I trying to put it down. I’m finding it difficult to wrap my head around how a band can be both so creative and non-imaginative at the same time. Technically-speaking, they’re great and the individual bits in every song are cool, but they don’t seem to blend.

Turning to Chris Turner’s drumming, his approach to the music fits perfectly to the band’s sound. His playing is really interesting as he never seems to play the same thing twice, yet every drum groove really does sound like no note hasn’t been thought through. Intricate and detailed, furious yet intellectual. Really cool stuff!

So, whilst this may not be my cup of tea, I actually enjoyed the album; cool music representative of its time, executed with precision. Yet, it’s not something I may go back to even though it has made an impact in me, and that’s what art is supposed to do. They would be a great band to check out live, I imagine.

Follow these links to listen to Hikari on iTunes or on Spotify. Let me know if you agree or disagree with me!

Thanks for reading!

Nick x

11 Ways To Improve Your Creative Drumming Part 4

11 Ways To Improve Your Creative Drumming Part 4

11 ways to improve your creative drumming! In this last article in the series, we’ll be looking elements / considerations which, whilst obvious, can sometimes be overlooked when it comes to the creative process. Let’s dive right into melody, the bass, and the concept of keeping it simple, stupid! Enjoy.

In evaluating what a song is trying to tell us, aside from rhythmic patterns and lyrics, melody is crucial. Whether it’s happy, sad, melancholic, quirky or otherwise, a melody needs to be complimented accordingly.

How can we use the drums to achieve this? There isn’t a right or wrong answer here (unless perhaps you’re presented with a pop ballad and play a hyper gravity bomb blast beat on top). Great examples, however, include Tallulah Rendall’s “Black Seagull”, “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” by Paul Simon, and The Beatles’ “Come Together”. Pay attention how the grooves perfectly compliment the sentiment of each song.

A slightly different approach could be using our tom-toms, tuned to match the song’s melodic structure, to help embellish passages and create complimenting melodies. For instance have a listen to Seinabo Sey’s song “Poetic”.

The Bass

A melodic and rhythmic instrument. It’s well-known that us drummers should work closely with bassists. By paying attention to what the is bass doing we can not only avoid rhythmic clashes but, if we’re stuck, can match their rhythm or create complimenting grooves. Either way, the tighter this relationship is, the better the band will sound.

K.I.S.S

Keep It Simple, Stupid! This can be overlooked as we try to come up with cool and complex, yet sometimes unnecessary parts. Think of the song as a method of communication, on that’s been around for thousands of years (Kilmer, 1976). Consequently, the clearer the message, the more effective it is.

Therefore, perhaps thinking about our drum parts as an instrument of clear communication can help inspire, or think differently about what we could / should play. AC/DC are a perfect example of keeping it simple, with drum parts to match. The caveat here, however, is musical context and your choices will be influenced the genre, style, brief, etc. you’re working on.

Conclusion

What this series of articles has tried to distill is that the more clearly we define the problem, the clearer our solution is. We have considered different elements that may help us, as Michelangelo suggested, carve out a suitable groove.

Keep in mind that this is a process. The ideal solution will, most likely, not come out straight away but will develop over time as the song takes shape, or as you become acquainted with what’s being presented to you.

You can even put this problem-solving mentality to work when you’re not behind the kit too! Listen to your favourite records and check out what the drummer does. Think about about how you would change what they have done slightly, and then try and come up with something of your own. Picture yourself playing it; tapping it on your lap might, as a bare minimum, provide you with the sticking pattern you would use.