Breaking down the influences of Finnish alt metal up-and-comers Oceanhoarse, including Metallica, Iron Maiden, Protest the Hero, Devin Townsend and more.

a year ago

Finnish fourpiece Oceanhoarse are one of my favourite new bands. Their 2021 record Dead Reconing was extremely promising and surprisingly diverse, blending elements of prog, alt rock, nu metal, thrash and everything in between, while consistently deliveing memorable songwriting and massive hooks.

Their new album, Heads Will Roll is a more straight forward affair, but no less impressive or consistent in its delivery. The mix of classic heavy metal acts and modern prog masters that provide their influences makes perfect sense for the sound of their second record, which doubles down on the feel good heavy metal at the band's core but still keeps things fresh by throwing in the occasional curveball ever now and then. If any of the bands below have ever piqued your interest then this is one well worth checking out.

Heads Will Roll is out this Friday, February the 17th, and can be ordered using the bandcamp link above.

Ben (Guitar):

Children of Bodom – Follow The Reaper (2000)

This spot could have gone to any one of the first four Children of Bodom albums. The impact this band had on me as a young metalhead and guitar player cannot be overstated. I remember when my friend bought the first COB album Something Wild (1997) ... talk about a WTF moment! The sound, the arrangements and especially Alexi Laiho's guitar playing just blew my head off. And the fact that these guys were not from the USA but from right here, Finland, was so inspiring as a teenager. I started practicing like a maniac after that, and continued to be the biggest Bodom fan for years. I bought Follow the Reaper the day it came out, and played it to death. Just a perfect blend of killer riffs, beautiful melodies and amazing guitar work.

Metallica – Live Shit: Binge & Purge (1993)

Metallica are another one of the big influences on me from the early days. This live box set is a great way for me to cheat here, since I couldn't name just one of their albums. But actually, it has many merits of its own. I've listened to the Mexico City show so many times, I could probably quote every word James Hetfield says between the songs. Same with the San Diego and Seattle video tapes (which I have since upgraded to DVD's). Especially the Seattle show from 1989 is to me Metallica at it's best: they've just hit arena level so the crowds are huge and the production is there, they're on top of their game playing-wise, and James has never sounded better before or since. When they start the show with "Blackened" ... c'mon man, game over! No band can touch that.

Jyri (bass):

Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden (1980)

The debut album that captured the peak of the ”New Wave of British Heavy Metal” movement. I love the fact that you can actually hear the nuances of everyone’s playing style - nowadays it’s way more difficult to recognize individual players or instruments. But in 1980 it was a totally different deal! If you put on this album on your record player and push play, within 30 seconds you can tell from the very first drum beat that it’s Clive Burr playing that relentless hi-hat beat that pushes the band forward, or it’s Steve Harris with his clanky Fender bass that really cuts through the mix and gives Iron Maiden their trademark sound.

Besides the fierce playing, the other thing I must highlight is their very original, yet very catchy, songwriting style. All the songs on the album have occasional twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat waiting for the next turn of events – and at the same time every transition feels so natural and well-thought that you don’t even realize how many drastic tempo-changes etc. are happening within one song! I guess part of the magic comes from the fact that most of the songs from the first two Iron Maiden albums had been already performed live several times before recording the "final” studio version. Therefore, everyone’s playing precisely together and you can sense the natural flow and live feeling although it is a studio recording.

Ugly Kid Joe – Menace to Sobriety (1995)

I know, I know: many people would consider Ugly Kid Joe either as a ”one-hit wonder” or as a parody band, but let me assure you that once you scratch the surface you’d be surprised how many hidden gems they actually have on their back catalog! Menace to Sobriety was released in 1995 and it’s way heavier and less tongue-in-cheek written than its predecessor America’s Least Wanted (1992).

The album is filled with crushing riffs, bluesy guitar solos and impeccable groovy drumming by their then-new drummer Shannon Larkin, although it was Whitfeld Crane’s raspy and hoarse voice that immediately got my attention when I first heard the album’s hit single "Milkman’s Son". I immediately bought the cassette and was mesmerized by the photos of their rehearsal place and gear they’d put on the inner sleeve, and the fact that they looked like California surfers rather than a traditional metal band - and yet they managed to sound so heavy!

The opening three songs on the album, "Intro", "God" and "Tomorrow’s World", are a perfect combo to showcase the heavier and darker, yet groovier sound this album is all about. Also, speaking of Whit Crane, he’s still today one hell of a showman and the whole band was on fire when they did a festival show in Finland a couple of years ago. We played on the same festival earlier that day and ran into them on the catering area by accident. To my delight they seemed to be just as laid-back and cool as I pictured them to be 25 years ago when I was just a kid with a cassette player!

Joonas (Vocals):

Protest The Hero – Volition (2013):

This album one of modern metal classics in my opinion. Rody Walker’s lyrics and the sheer talent of the whole band just blew my mind on each track. ”Mist” was one of the first tracks I heard from this album. After hearing the song I rushed to listen to the rest of it. Volition is the album for Protest the Hero that I feel they matured and boiled down the band's core sound and feel, although I loved the previous ones also, especially Fortress (2008). This is an ”all killer, no filler” kind of art piece.

Killswitch Engage – Alive or Just Breathing (2002)

This was the first album I heard from Killswitch Engage, allthough The End of Heartache (2004) had just come out. This was right in the beginning of the metalcore scene and I was at a party listening to something like Disturbed and my buddy gave me a CD and said ”check this out”. Opening with ”Numbered Days” I just felt that this fucking band is going to change everything just like bands like Iron Maiden and Pantera did before. Brave words I know. People can say what they want but, with this album, Killswitch Engage started a change in metal we can still hear today in almost every ”modern” metal band. I consider both of these bands' lead vocalists Jesse Leach and Rody Walker, two of the most influential singers to my own vocal sound and style.

Oskari (drums):

The Offspring – Splinter (2003)

One of the first CDs I ever owned. This pick is solely because of Josh Freese, my favourite drummer. I didn't understand his genius until a few years later though. He showed me how to play solid and simple beats to fairly simple songs. The power he carries through fast snare and tom fills got me practicing speed around the kit. Just follow your hands doing RLRL and make sure every hit has attack. Some cool odd cymbal hits here and there to spice things up a bit. The drums have a roomy yet crisp sound to them and the overall mix is crushing at the faster songs.

The album as a whole doesn't really stand out due to so many pop moments but songs like "The Noose", "Long Way Home", "Race Against Myself", "(Can´t Get My) Head Around You", "Never Gonna Find Me" and "Lightning Rod" surely stay on my Josh Freese playlist. He made me understand that I, as a fairly normally skilled drummer, can indeed drive songs with massive power just by using the simple building blocks.

Devin Townsend Band – Accelerated Evolution (2003)

A no skip album. Devin Townsend's team managed to capture a huge sounding album that keeps your attention tightly. I like it when there is a similar atmosphere throughout the songs and it all starts by taking a look at the cover: this album is white to me; I'm flying in that cloudy and electric sky in my mind when listening to it. The music is wider and atmospheric which influenced me to think of our own music in longer dramatic sequences. I try to carry the dialogue between the verses and choruses in such a way that the tension and release naturally keeps the listener interested.

When it comes to drumming, Accelerated Evolution packs more slower and heavier grooves that it leans into great cymbal work. Drummer Ryan Van Poederooyen paints a huge canvas with his majestic grooves all coming from great power and discipline. I would give almost anything in exchange to be able to groove like he does in the intro of "Traveller", for example. A simple beat but the trick is to make it powerful. This album influenced me to bring emotion and beauty to heavy music. Just trust the song and enjoy the chords and riffs. "Deadhead" is obviously the hit song from this album and rightfully so. It shows some of Townsend's finest vocal work and is perfectly composed carrying the story like in a short movie. The other songs around it really mirror its melancholy emotion, lifting this album to one of the best collection of noises that were brought into my ears [agreed—Josh].


Joshua Bulleid

Published a year ago