Album Review: Ocean Towers - "Chapter 1"

Album Review by Dan Nightingale

The new Ocean Towers album is a seriously heavy slab of grinding, repeating stoner rock riffs that burrow into your brain. Their massive live show looses no steam on record, and it's just as thick and loud. If there's one thing this band loves to do, it's jam – every song seems to hit that perfect jam time frame – nothing under 4 minutes and nothing over 6 and a half. Every riff is seemingly simple but so catchy that you really do want to hear it over and over, and the band delivers.

The recording itself is, of course, utterly superb – guitarist/vocalist Jon Dacey also happens to be a master recording engineer, and it shows on 'New Eyes,' the first track on the album. The guitars are thick and crunchy, and the vocals have a nasty, beautiful digital grunge all over them. The snare drum sounds like it was yanked off a reggae album and thrown in here, but it works so well. Tremolo picked guitars and rampaging drum fills carry one majorly heavy riff through the brunt of the song before it picks up speed and dives into more shredding guitar solos.

'Honey Slides' kicks off another giant barrel of riffage – chord changes be damned, this is all about power. Bodaciously retro psychedelic lyrics make this a stand out track on the album. Imagine if Trent Reznor was the lead singer for Kyuss and you'll have a pretty good idea of what this song sounds like. The riff starts to loose a bit of energy near the end, but most bands have a hard enough time to sticking for one verse riff for 35 seconds, much less 3+ minutes. Perfect sweeping synth filter tweaks put the classic psychedelic icing on the cake that is this tune, and chances are you won't have stopped nodding your head the whole way through.


Unlike the first two tracks, staples of the bands live show, 'Echo' starts off on a new foot with spacey guitar, percussion, and deep jungle drums. After an extended intro of wavvery guitars and plinking acoustic sounds, alien vocals slowly usher in more space guitar, and the whole track takes on a brooding, twisted drug trip feeling. Heavily filtered space bass and synths sound like a a robotripping Aphex Twin. The track slowly ramps back up to heavy riffage, ushered in by a perfectly timed drum fill.

At this point comes a crucial turning point in the album – can the band sustain the energy or will it start to drag? Fortunately 'The Stand' answers this off by kicking off with the most rock and roll sounding riff of the album, at uncharacteristically normal tempo. The vocals don't suite the quicker rock style as well as they do the slow burning jams, and they do grow a little monotone, but they work so well for the style and tone of the music that it's easily forgiven.

The closing track 'Lucid Journey' starts off with more psychedelic electronica influence before dropping into more weighty drums and pulsing filters. Most heavy bands now-a-days seem to be afraid to showcase their electronic, physc, folk, jam band, or non-metal influences, but the best bands take a bit of everything and make it all work together, and Ocean Towers showcase that style superbly. There isn't a single moment that, try as you might, you can describe as cheesy or 'lame;' the band creates a perfect atmosphere of dread and brings you completely into their hazey, freak out world and unabashedly pummels your senses from every direction.

As 'Lucid Journey' trails off, you realize you're starting to wake from the fantastical dream – you can't really remember what happened, but there was fire, and devils, and swirling colours everywhere, and you don't know why, but you want more. Grab this album now for a generous pay what you can price at http://oceantowers.bandcamp.com/

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