ALBUM REVIEW: River Becomes Ocean – A Motion Paralysed

Release Date: January 18th 2019
Label: Department Musik


Building of the promise shown on 2016’s ‘December’ EP, British post-hardcore quartet River Becomes Ocean have delved deeper into cinematic soundscapes on debut full-length, ‘A Motion Paralysed’, tackling sparse melodies and crunching distortion in equal measure.

The group’s range of influences are evidenced from the get go, with opener ‘Brighton’ serving as a showcase for evolving melody and well timed harmonisation. Playing with rising and falling dynamics, the track holds tension in an unconventional manner, allowing following number ‘This Hell Is Heaven Sent’ to rip through the speakers.

The track sees guitarist Danny Snow launch into tremolo picking as Dorian Neidhardt creates a double kick based foundation, before additional melodies fight for space. Disregarding the usual formula, the energy is kept throughout the verse with bouncing rhythms and loose guitars.

As the bridge creates a respite from the burgeoning energy, vocalist Marvin McMahon opens his vocal range up to create a wide chorus. By using held notes and layered vocal harmonies, the group transform the previous section into something different entirely.

It also touches upon multiple facets of the group’s arsenal from ringing breakdowns to a cappella led motifs, ensuring not a second is wasted. Whilst the aforementioned tracks give a strong indication of the record’s main themes, the group move into various territories throughout.

Built upon the refugee crisis, ‘Take My Hand’ sees them combine pulsing industrial influenced synths alongside soft piano melodies. Not allowing any concept to outstay its welcome, the track soon incorporates jagged guitars and dual vocal harmonies before hammering drums engulf the tension-building vocals.

The main hook of the release comes from the strength of the song writing, as evidenced in cuts such as ‘Never Enough’. Effortlessly switching from clean and sporadic melodies to claustrophobic and percussive guitars, not one section plays out for too long.

‘You Said’ takes this concept further, based around delay chords and bouncing drums, elements shift in and out from one another to retain attention. Whether it’s fast vocal techniques or modified choruses, the track continues building and breaking energy towards its fading coda.

With a diverse soundscape to play with coupled with a cut throat approach to structure, River Becomes Ocean have created a debut in ‘A Motion Paralysed’ that will please existing fans and win over newcomers in equal measure.