Review: Burn The Ocean – 'Come Clean'

The first morning with Burn The Ocean’s ‘Come Clean’ saw me put it on in the car on the way to work. A fat snare and tom groove opens up proceedings, coupled with a kick drum that smacks you in the face. Down-tuned guitars provide the wall of sound, and strong vocals provide the final melodic element. I looked down and realised that, despite the snow and ice I was driving through, my right foot had become very heavy due to the infectious grooves and riffs pouring through my speakers.

This is the first album from Burn The Ocean, which was released in November last year. A little searching led me to learn that the band was formed from three members of ‘2November’ (Emanuele Pecollo, guitars and vocals, Davide Di Maggio, drums, Valentina Di Maggio, bass), with the addition of Fabio Palombi on guitar and vocals completing Burn the Ocean’s lineup, all of whom hail from Genoa, Italy.

The opener ‘Days In November’ really sets the scene and pace for this seven track album, huge drums and guitars, tight rhythm section, and excellent vocals, if a little quiet in the mix. Despite the genre and fine guitar work there is not a lot in the way of ‘big solos’, the main concentration being on riffs and harmony (no bad thing). That said, it took me until the third listen to notice that only one track, ‘Bitedown’, had a guitar solo. I see it as a sign of how good the guitar work is on this album. It does all the right things, and needs no further embelishment.

‘Seed’ is another shining example of the close guitar work of Emanuelle and Fabio, a slight hint of a solo, but always conentrating on riff and harmony. I find it hard to believe that Fabio is such a new recruit to this band, as they seem to almost gel as one guitar, and play off each other with style and confidence. The track opens with what I feel is going to become a signature sound, the harmony guitar riff. The sound is huge, but crystal clear, with each individual instrument able to be heard clearly while acting as one entity. The kick continues to smack you in the face as the hard hitting drums hold it all together with tasteful fills and groove. I am reminded in places of Faith No More’s ‘The Real Thing’ era, partly by the guitar work, but also the vocal melody and phrasing.

I am getting the feeling that this record, at times, is a commentary on the state of the world we live in, and the powers that run our lives. ‘Land Of Mud’ is the most obvious proof of this, and communicates an angry sentiment about politicians, corporations, and our lives being about hitting targets rather than enjoying life. There is a lot more dynamic in the track, with sections of clean guitar, a thundering, angry chorus, and some moments of real power and commitment. Again, the guitar work is outstanding, showing clever, delicate touches, and playing off each other as though they had been doing it for years. The vocal performance is definitely in the same league, powerful and emotional, with the chorus well and truly stuck in my head. This is my stand out track of the album, as it shows that this band is not just about power, they can be dynamic and subtle also.

‘Feast’ and ‘Bitedown’ continue the theme, although possibly the two tracks on the album that are the most conventional rock tracks. They both move along apace with power and melody. Some fine harmony vocal work in the choruses help to lift things and, dare I say it, make these the more commercial of all seven tracks. That is not to do them a disservice, only to say that they are the two tracks in which I recognise more comparisons to bands that have gone before than the others.

Now onto my elephant in the room… ‘Black Dog’!! A classic track, and one cover that is either going to work well or fail miserably. The opening line has had a vinyl effect put on it, which I assume is a nod to the song’s origins. We are then firmly taken into the present day, and Burn The Ocean launch into an onslaught of power. Although not really changing much they have made this their own and revitalised it with energy and power. I have firmly landed on the side that this has definitely been a triumph… not better or worse, just different. A brave track to put on an album, and I for one am glad they did.

We are led to the finish with a total departure from the rest of the album. Acoustic guitars, Pink Floyd-ian vocal snippets, vocal drones and harmonies take us on a journey which I feel is another commentary on what the human race is doing to this world. It is a very atmospheric piece with fine guitar work and really works as a way to finish off the album.

‘Come Clean’ is an album that needs more than one listen, and it deserves that respect. There is a depth here that maybe isn’t instantly apparent. Every time I listen, I hear something new, be it a guitar part or lyric, it just keeps giving. I knew nothing about Burn The Ocean before this album landed in my inbox, but rest assured, I shall be keeping an eye on them and their progress. The first chance I get, I’ll be there to see them live. I would advise anyone else to do the same.

Review: Simon Larkin

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