Ocean is Theory - Into the Mouths of Lions
Record Label: None
Release Date: May 2, 2008
Into the Mouths of Lions, the debut EP by Atlanta natives Ocean is Theory, will probably be an album of almost immediate gratification for fans of Thrice, Circa Survive and The Receiving End of Sirens, as stylistically they are mining a similar territory, what with the walls of thick lush guitars with well considered lyrics, harmonic vocals and a massive and magnificent sound. But regardless of first impressions, patience rewards the listener with an even more impressive aural experience. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was so impressed by a mere 20-minutes of music. The group are outstanding young musicians and show songwriting flair beyond their years, and they have a natural ability for creating massive hooks and brilliant melodies. Put simply, as far as debut EP’s go, Into the Mouths of Lions is just about one of the best you’re likely to find in 2008.
Despite their strong and evidently apparent influences, don’t make the mistake of assuming that Ocean is Theory’s sound is unoriginal, as they add a great sense of hooky fun, accessibility and a Sparta-esque anthemic tinge to their phenomenally inspiring sound, as demonstrated by the strong opener “Plant Your Fields,” a song which grabs you right from the off and pulls you into the record tremendously. The utterly seamless transition between “Plant Your Fields” and the massive sounding “By No Means” is genuinely impressive, and the music as a whole is lush, textured and full of surprises. They are particularly adept at effectively shifting between loud and soft dynamics, best demonstrated by “Oh Broken Son,” a song with an explosive chorus counterbalanced by quieter more intricately arrange verses. The mostly straightforward but utterly enjoyable “More than Conquerors” is armed with a huge towering sing-along chorus and urgently rushes through the speakers, demanding that all within earshot stop and listen. Closer “A City of Water” may be the best track here, with its simply humongous sound and wonderful soaring vocals, and it ends the record on a definite high, both delivering closure and making you long for more.
In truth, the music can come across as a little tame, as their admittedly effortless combination of massive hooks, tuneful vocals and common time songs with post-hardcore guitars and thick walls of sound deprives them of the raw edge that makes Brand New or Underoath so exciting, as well as the remarkable intelligence and experimentalism of Thrice or Circa Survive. In many ways Ocean is Theory is one of the most accessible hardcore bands I’ve ever heard, almost the polar opposite of the grittiness and defiance of At the Drive-In or Glassjaw. But despite what they lose with having a cleaner well-produced sound, the style of music does suit them phenomenally well, and it’s incredibly easy to listen to. You can argue the merits of their style all you want, but there is no denying that they do what they do well.
Considering the quality of their music, counterbalanced by their accessible sing-along sound and flair for massive hooks, Ocean is Theory have superstar potential written literally all over them. If the group can produce a first full-length that is as impressive as this debut release, they may be onto something truly remarkable. Regardless of their transcendent potential, Into the Mouths of Lions is a thoroughly easy and enjoyable record to listen to, and all five songs are very well written and superbly executed. The group do a wonderful of paying tribute to their influences while at the same time creating a record that feels fresh and unique. It’s music that’s both intelligent and fun; both unique and familiar; both loud and melodic. I’d love to hear a full-length record from this band, but in the meantime, Into the Mouths of Lions is a great introduction for them, and it stands as one of the most impressive debut EP’s of 2008.