North Carolina is an underappreciated hotbed of talent in the American metal scene, where bands like Between the Buried and Me and Corrosion of Conformity, among many others, have come up to inform the progression of their respective musical niches on a worldwide scale. It also doesn’t hurt that acts like Weedeater, He Is Legend, and To Speak of Wolves call The Tar Heel State their home.
What you might not know (unless of course you live there) is that there’s a thriving scene of up-and-coming bands that are promising to do the same, from bands establishing their name as internationally touring acts like Aether Realm to progressive metal act Verse Vica clawing their way up and out.
As Oceans is one such killer act breaking out of North Carolina, taking a diverse and progressive approach to metalcore and deathcore that fans of After The Burial, Architects, and Rivers of Nihil would appreciate. Their third full-length album Still Miles To Go drops today, March 16th, 2018, and in celebration of its release, the band have shared with us a rundown of the bands (and paintings!) that inspired their sound. Check out The Anatomy Of As Oceans below.
Logan Lawson (Vocals)
I’m going to change mine up a bit. While I’m always listening to music I can’t definitively put my finger on any specific records that helped spawn the ideas behind the lyrical content of Still Miles to Go. However, I can think on a few 19th century oil paintings that manifested the scribblings that lead to the overall theme of this coming of age record. These Romantic paintings are well-known and for good reason. “Wanderer Above a Sea of Fog”; a painting by Casper David Friedrich is so captivating and relatable to a fellow adventurer I wanted to pay homage to it by naming one of my favorite tracks on the record by its secondary title (Wanderer Above the Mist). Much like the painters and poets of the Romantic movement; the music that As Oceans makes is, in parts, a reaction to the world around us.
At the time the record was being written there seemed to be an overbearing darkness in the world – Human rights continually being violated by those in power, media fear mongering and not to mention the omnipresent political theatre that us common folk are merely affected spectators. A lot of nonsense where for me it becomes necessary to lift my head out of the gutter and take a breath of fresh air. Many times, I have found myself “lost” in the wilderness and centered in my own mind and that’s what I feel when I look at this painting. The past 5 years of my life I’ve been fortunate enough to live in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains where I’ve gotten many chances to absorb the vast beauty of the world’s Heirloom hills. While humbling, to me, it also magnifies the importance of being good. Why would we be put in a place so magnificent to be anything less? Sometimes when I observe that contrast it can lead me to feelings of misanthropy which we all know can make a great Metal song/record (Shout out to People = Shit).
The next series of painting that drew themselves out in forms of phrases and lyrics on the record is a series of called “The Voyage of Life” by Thomas Cole. This series of paintings is said to serve as an allegory of the stages of human life (Childhood, Youth, Manhood and Old age). “Still Miles to Go” is by no means a linear allegory but does have linking concepts of overcoming any strife that make us vulnerable yet human. To me the painting also serves as a finite source to ignite reflect on our individual stories. At the end of the day, attempting to do that for the band as the lyricist and the person that brings life to the words is the goal for me on this record and as a musician. By telling our story of our journey perhaps it can help fill in the blanks for some one else.
The paintings also portray the landscapes as they relate to the 4 seasons of the year. I like to imagine, that in the vein of soundscapes, an album can illustrate cycles as well. A cycle much like the 4 seasons! For Still Miles to Go in particular, we kick off the record with the Last of Spring and the rising of Summer. Wild, energetic, and free with songs like “Blackfish” and “Wanderer Above the Mist”. As the album progresses to its end we find ourselves in the thorny clutches of Winter. The weight of all we reflected on bears down on us and we’re forced to face our most exposed and frigid emotions. The somber ending of the record which also happens to be the title track serves as a plead to find the warmth of Home.
Pat Tarpey (guitar)
Insomnium – Winters Gate
First of all, I think that Insomnium is one of the most consistent bands in metal when it comes to putting out breathtaking records! Winter’s Gate came at a pivotal moment for me and helped bring me back to the core of what I love in music: emotion! Every climactic moment on the record makes the hairs on my arm stand up. Show me a man who thinks he can create a better arrangement than this band and I will show you a fool! Every octave is jam-packed with texture but it never seems like too much. Insomnium doesn’t just write songs. They write feelings, and that is why everyone trying to write/produce music should give this a listen.
Pink Floyd – The Wall
I was hooked, morbidly fascinated, and quickly brought to tears the first time I listened to this record as a kid. Since the 2000s many folks in the metal world have been throwing around the word “prog” thinking that it means you play in odd time signatures with a guitar tone that has a massive midrange spike. This record, to me, is the true definition of “prog.” It covers a multitude of styles, features all kinds of different instrumentation, tremendous arrangements one moment, sparse arrangements the next, gut wrenching performances, has a strong core concept, has people voice acting characters, destroyed the band…and on top of that has production that people are still trying to emulate in 2018. Is the record full of iconic guitar solos and moments of musical expertise? Yes. Does that all pale in comparison to the raw emotions evoked in the listener for eighty minutes and fifty-four seconds? Also yes.
Ben Dunlop (Drums)
I would say it’s more about two bands than two albums for me personally. When we first started writing Still Miles To Go, we had all been listening to a whole lot of Fit For An Autopsy and Thy Art Is Murder. Josean Orta and Lee Stanton are two of the most gifted drummers in the game right now in my opinion. They have an incredible talent for taking some of the most difficult parts to play on drums and making them sound so smooth and easy to listen to. You can gently bob your head with headphones to the exact same section of the exact same song that will have you wanting to commit a murder in the pit at a live show. I love that so much. The “bouncy” aggression and groove they both are able to lay down in their music. I tried to mirror what I could of that feeling while writing my parts for Still Miles To Go. There are parts of the album that sound like straight up violence coupled with others that can be equally as heavy, but I can also share with my family and friends that are musically inclined, but not into “metal.”
Fit For An Autopsy “Black Mammoth”
Thy Art Is Murder “Dead Sun”
Kit Brown (bass)
Devin Townsend Project – Deconstruction
Sure, I’ll never write anything that sounds even remotely like this, but Dev’s 2011 masterpiece (in my opinion) is one hell of a way for him to close out the uber-heavy, uber-manic side of his progressive metal past. It’s constantly been in rotation with me ever since its release and constantly throws small surprises at the listener even after an obscene amount of listens. The fact that it also features damn near every one of my favorite frontmen from prog metal’s past two decades is almost too much to take, but Deconstruction caters each and every section to its respective feature perfectly. Is it overly bombastic? You bet! Are you going to hear a grown man have epic diarrhea at some point during the record? Once again, you bet! This album certainly isn’t for everyone, but it’s the most fun I’ve had with a metal album in the past ten years and I’m sure plenty of chuggier riffs from here have found their way into my writing style as well.
Rivers of Nihil – Monarchy
If you ask me, Rivers of Nihil is the most exciting modern death metal band in America right now. They’ve already seemed to really capture the chunkiness of death metal and merge it seamlessly with the epic soundscapes of post-rock without ever seem like it’s overstepping some sort of imaginary line. It’s technical without being burdensome, brutal without stepping into comic territory, and most importantly, honest. For my money, their second record Monarchy is the best American death metal record of this decade, and it will take something insanely special to top it over the next two years.