Ocean Grove – ‘The Rhapsody Tapes’ [Review]
UPDATE: TMMP has been reborn! This video has the full story:
Just as you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t judge a band by its name. When I first heard of Ocean Grove, I expected them to be a pop-punk outfit, a happy-go-lucky group of charming cheeky chaps writing songs about looking back nostalgically at teenage years full of good times, sunshine, girl problems, and probably either surfing or skating.
But, of course, expectations don’t always equal reality.
The Rhapsody Tapes is far from sunny. Ocean Grove have managed to compress a huge range of tough, gritty, in-your-face styles and put their own stamp on the results. What I Love About A Natural Woman falls somewhere between The Prodigy, Pendulum, and Massive Attack, getting things started with a thick, sludgy bass and synth workout complete with ultra-confident rapping and spacious drums before Ocean Grove drop into Beers – a hectic, trebly post-hardcore onslaught that made me, on first impressions, think of Ho99o9, who I discovered last week as they proved to a sold-out room precisely why they deserved to be supporting The Dillinger Escape Plan.
Were Dillinger to stay together and keep touring, Ocean Grove would have made a perfect future support band. These guys are limitless genre terrorists; not content with just owning trip-hop or post-hardcore, Ocean Grove quickly combine both during Thunderdome, ripping into one hell of an anthemic chorus (and some grungy guitar anti-soloing) for good measure. Then the spirit of old-school Korn gets summoned for Intimate Alien, a neck-pumping rap-metal onslaught; The Wrong Way sees vocalist Luke Holmes channel Kurt Cobain on a track that the Nirvana frontman would be proud to have penned had he lived this long; and Slow Soap Soak flirts with reggae-tinged hip-hop for close to two minutes.
This is a good point to mention that The Rhapsody Tapes is not an album you should listen to through laptop speakers. You need headphones. Seriously. There’s so much detail in every moment of this album that it’d be practically criminal to let those sometimes-almost-subliminal features remain inaudible.
Anyway, we’re at the halfway point, where These Boys Light Fires brings Cobain to the fore once more as Ocean Grove churn through another hectic post-hardcore rampage; When You’re This High You Can Say What You Like drops a personal favourite groove, slamming hard and dropping into another Korn-evoking moment; and Mr. Centipede’s intro pulses seductively while invoking Deftones before more riffage arrives and Luke Holmes this time channels Chino Moreno without sounding like a clone. It’s absolutely mental how well Ocean Grove walk the piano-wire-thin Tightrope Of Originality even as they wear their influences on their sleeves. I’m glad they can do it, though – their record collections clearly mirror mine, and had they put out something half-masted I’d have been absolutely gutted.
Into the home stretch, and we hit From Dalight (another two-minute experimental trip-hop interlude), Tratosphere Love (shades of Limp Bizkit, Korn, Tesseract, and even Rage Against The Machine merging into another personal highlight), and finally Hitachi, one final trip-hop workout, a low-key breather that reminded me at times of Beardyman’s on-record efforts, making Ocean Grove come across as somehow telepathic. If I were to form a band out of some handy primal ooze and program them to make music according to my exact ideal specifications, I’d do it hoping that the results would sound exactly like The Rhapsody Tapes.
“Genius” is a word used too often, and rarely is it really meant. But as far as I’m concerned, Ocean Grove are a bunch of fucking geniuses. End of story.
TMMP RATING: 110% (Essential Listening!)
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