Written by: DR on 27/06/2009 14:50:54

After just one record, Oceana established themselves as one of the better bands on the otherwise monotonous Rise Records roster; the vocals were nothing terrific and there certainly wasn’t an over-whelming freshness about these kids, but their ambient and experimental musicianship was enough for them to create a niche for themselves in probably the most overcooked genre around. A feat which is all the more impressive when you consider that the average age of the band at the time was 18.

Now, a year and 2 member-changes later, Oceana are back with "Birth.Eater", only this time around they’ve dropped their atmospheric pseudo-hardcore sound in favour of more focus on song-writing. The musicianship which made "The Tide" so special is all but gone, but fear not as it is for the better - as it wouldn’t particularly fit in with the dark and sombre demeanour on show here.

Many fans will be questioning whether the new guys can step in to the big shoes left for them by their formers, with particular focus on Brennan Taulbee replacing Keith Jones as lead vocalist. Oceana purists won’t like it and may not accept it, but thirty seconds in to "Breather II." it becomes evident that Brennan is every bit as good as his predecessor - if anything he's actually better - Jones' screams always sounded forced and somewhat whiney, whereas Taulbee’s are much more convincing.

"Birth.Eater" is grim, and not just for the sake of being depressing - there is a purpose and it's pulled off adeptly with spacey riffs and such lyrics as: "Something didn't want you to live in me/My body rejected you, you don't belong to me." and this gem from "The Abortion Plan": “And the due date is close/Well heaven knew it takes a part of me/But I only speak, I only speak when I am hungry/Now the lights on my face/And I've never felt more ugly when the devil grabbed me by the legs and shook me, I was gone.” At times it can feel like the album is just a forum for the band’s anti-abortion stance, but if you don’t mind being beaten and bashed over the head by these views you can appreciate the guile and craft with which they have been pulled off.

This really is an impressive album, even if their lack of years does show on occasion; "The Abortion Plan" runs on for two minutes longer than it should, for instance. It's a shame these guys decided to call it a day because they have more ability than most of their contemporaries, and they were starting to realise the potential that "The Tide" has promised. There is enough quality in "Birth.Eater" for it to be a contender for post-hardcore album of the year, moreover, you get the feeling that had they continued, it wouldn’t have been long before they would have been up there with the likes of Underoath and Alexisonfire.


Download: The Family Disease, Dead Speaker, Mother Love
For Fans of: Underoath, Of Machines, In Fear And Faith
Listen: Myspace

Release Date 26.05.09
Rise Records

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