That first EP release is never easy. You’ve spent the time and money and even more time just to figure out who and what you are as a band, only to then spend more money trying to cohesively translate said who or whatness into a digital version of yourselves for the world to see. This is a time both sensitive and gruelling in every possible fashion, but most importantly a time for lessons learned. All that old fuck rambling just to tell you I’ve got the duty of going over a fresh Montreal, QC metalcore act in Ocean Drive and their brand spanking new EP Snowpiercer.
Ocean Drive make a solid attempt at a lesser used style of metalcore more reminiscent of the way things once were in the new age of American metal days. Very Bury Tomorrow and even a little Fit for a King at times with some key differences that have a tendency to show their tenure and a pain point I’ve personally found with Montreal metalcore bands over the years (because foreshadowing, it’s what’s for dinner). Snowpiercer brings all the typical elements of a good metalcore release in terms of groove, heaviness/unbridled angst, and attempts of soaring melody. Various moments across the EP bleed potential and promise for this young act with time and practice but it suffices to say some things you just can’t teach.
Two major points particularly hurt about this effort. Firstly, the recording quality isn’t necessarily at an all-time low but definitely does not lend a helping hand at smoothing over particularly young sounding riffs, or choppy transitions. Take the very first digested moment in “Disbelief” since we’re sucking down foreshadowing tonight. Ominous low-end picking that when mastered and toned properly could easily give the desired effect of “oh no the world is ending,” but falls a little closer to the garage recording end of the spectrum, leaving only the lasting ax effects tone we’ve heard day in day out. This very sentiment sadly carriers out on various choruses, vocal layerings, and lead riffs throughout the record.
Segway-ing into pain point number two would be the vocal section. Metalcore at its base is a style musicians have a feeling of belonging to, not aspiring to be, which is why it perpetually perplexes me why any given band feels like it’s obligated to throw any clean singing to the heavens in terms of pitch, as if it’s written in a rule book somewhere. Comfort is a noticeable aspect of any musician, most of all with singers. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t always push your limits, but it is to say that if you push them too far it’ll ALWAYS show. Bands like Bury Tomorrow and Killswitch Engage aren’t where they are because they did what everybody else was doing, they stand at the top of the food chain because they did their thing their way and better than anybody else could.
All that to say a little cleaner and higher budget on the recording quality and a little more of a reality check, skill and comfort this band would start absolutely crushing this little scene of ours. Everybody’s gotta start somewhere, and as far as I’m concerned, Snowpiercer is a solid base to what could be a hell of a mountain.
Written by Jason Greenberg
*edited by Mike Milito