EP Review: We Are Not Okay by Oceans (Nuclear Blast)

Austrian/German metal band, Oceans, released their new EP called We Are Not Okay on the 30th of April 2021 via Nuclear Blast.

Coming with 4 tracks and 4 guests, 1 per track, We Are Not Okay is a powerful EP that tackles mental health issues, in particular, depression. I think the band really put it across best themselves so, from their website, this statement sums up the intent behind We Are Not Okay:

“Globally, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression. Depression can lead to suicide. 800 000 people die from suicide every year.

This is one person every 40 seconds.

Are you in a bad spot and feel like you need help? Can you no longer cope with your problems, thoughts or feelings on your own? Admitting this is the first and most important step! I am proud of you. Admitting that you need help and then seeking it, that is true strength. It is completely okay to sometimes be unable to handle everything by oneself, and to seek out assistance.

You are not alone! Your thoughts are not strange, you are loveable! The world is a prettier, funnier and more pleasant place with you in it! Without you, something would be missing – even if you do not think so! You deserve help, you do not have to carry your history, your experiences and feelings all by yourself! There is hope! Never lose it.”

Oceans We Are Not Okay Line Up

Oceans are Timo Schwämmlein on vocals and guitars, Thomas Winkelmann on bass, J.F. Grill on drums and Patrick Zarske on lead guitar.

We Are Not Okay (feat. Andy Dorner of Caliban) has an interesting start with plenty of synth and sampling before exploding into life with dark gutturals and a punchy riff. The chorus drops and is memorable with catchy rhythm and a nice melodic feel. The direction changes regularly and the second verse goes off into a cleaner style before coming back for a few lines of aggression at the end. I do really like the chorus here a lot. The whole song is intriguing though with a switching style that keeps you guessing and successfully treads a delicate line balancing the heaviness with the catchiness.

Everyone I Love is Broken (feat. Robb Flynn of Machine Head) changes completely in the intro with a morose feel and cleaner vocal. It acts as the foil to lull you in for a sudden explosion of aggression that has a big impact. The morbid feel continues even into the more melodic chorus and weights you down a bit. Flynn’s vocal bed in nicely without ever really taking the lead until the second chorus, instead cleverly adding a second tone and a bit more strength to the shouts. Add in a neat solo and you have a real banger of a track with another massive chorus that will be getting played for days. The icing on the cake is the thoughtful lyrical content and the honesty found within them.

“Why is no one there, to hold me when I cry” is a line all too familiar to anyone who has truly felt the chains of depression.

Voices (feat. Lena Scissorhands of Infected Rain) follows a similar vein having a slower, melodic start before descending into absolute chaos with grind worthy drumming and riffage and black/death metal vocals. They suddenly stop bringing the female cleans in and it’s a shock, a pleasant one. Clever stuff and another banger of a chorus which combines the male and female vocals is such a delight to listen to. The lyrical content in this one really hits the mark again. As a person with a strong understanding of these sorts of issues, I massively relate and feel every syllable, every drop of confusion and moment of frustration. This song is huge.

Shark Tooth (feat. Christoph Wieczorek of ANNISOKAY) starts well enough with some quick drums though it definitely has a bit more synth going on and I don’t adore the effect heavy vocals in the first verse. That’s gone soon and we get back to some really good stuff. There is a dark and sombre tone to proceedings with a slower, bassy tempo but still lashings of darkness and heaviness. That really comes to the forefront near the end as the tempo jumps up for a bit before we close off the EP with a little breakdown.

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What a nice surprise We Are Not Okay is! I knew nothing of Oceans so had no preconceptions and found an EP full of exciting music that changes direction and keeps you on your toes. It’s dark and thought provoking and when it drops, man do they bring the brutality. Around that though are layered and thoughtful songs with huge choruses and gloriously layered vocals aided by, but not dependent on some excellent guest spots. A creative and explosive joy to listen to and one that explores the inner torment of depression and other mental health issues with a delicate but accurate touch. This is seriously good music.

Grab a copy of We Are Not Okay from Oceans, here.

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We Are Not Okay by Oceans (Nuclear Blast)
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