Album Review: River Becomes Ocean – A Motion Paralysed

If you need a new band to obsess over in 2019 – we highly recommend River Becomes Ocean. 

River Becomes Ocean are releasing their debut album A Motion Paralysed on 18 January via Department Musik. Hailing from Brighton, the post-hardcore four-piece already have a couple of EP releases under their belt, as well as tours supporting the likes of Silverstein, Framing Hanley and The Qemists.

Now they’re set to step things up a notch with their first full length. The first single from the record has also been released and it features guest vocals from none other than Liam Cormier of Canadian hardcore legends Cancer Bats. Heavy rock riffs combine with a bold cinematic sound and deliciously cutting vocals to create on Silence Means Nothing.

Influenced by Classical music and film scores as much as by their heavier music peers and forefathers, River Becomes Ocean have embraced many styles of music with A Motion Paralysed, which kicks off with the cinematic Brighton. If you’ve ever been to the British seaside town, you’ll agree that this track wonderfully reflects the calm you feel being near the ocean, the piano perfectly putting a melody to the sound of the waves. We could listen to this song forever and not get tired of it. *Note to self – go to Brighton, sit by the beach and turn this up loud*

But then your two minutes of calm is up as the band launch right into the heavier This Hell Is Heaven Sent. Intense drums, melodic choruses and you’re hooked. This is a warning, you will immediately fall in love with River Becomes Ocean after listening to just the first two tracks on their debut album.

There seems to be an interesting influence of living by the seaside on this record – almost all songs have a strangely soothing up and down, rise and fall melodic theme making it all feel like being out at sea and going from calm waters into a storm and back out again. Especially in Face You, this melodic theme is underlined by a choral chorus that has a siren feel to it.

Take My Hand is by far one of our favourites – inspired and informed by the refugee crisis it’s a heart-wrenching and haunting song. Again, River Becomes Ocean take their songwriting to the next level by making their instrument represent parts of the lyrics when the drums sound like an army drum or helicopter blades. This one absolutely had us in tears – and we’re not ashamed to admit it.

On other tracks, the band’s sound is less heavy, and even a bit pop-punk tinged. Addicted is exactly that. Catchy chorus, textbook pop-punk love song lyrics, and slow bridge – we’re sold! Vocalist Marvin McMahon says is “Probably the most unconventional and surprising RBO song. ‘Addicted’ is an upbeat , fast-paced song, written in about 30 minutes one happy, autumn night.”

Happy, similar to Never Enough, picks up on the cinematic side of the band again. The ballad’s synth-heavy start then turns into an anthemic, drum-infused, powerful break-up song that gives us goosebumps.

The End showcases the band’s cinematic influences and abilities. “The End stands for drawing a line under the past and recklessly moving on,” says vocalist Marvin McMahon. “There is a political drive there too, with the chorus serving as a rallying call to fight and move on to better times, more open-mindedness and closing the gap between patriarchy and everyone else.”

Before finishing the album with ballad The Fall, you are first treated to the band’s second single You Said. The song fuses pop sounds with River Becomes Ocean’s unique heavier edge. “Lyrically the song is led by the question of what love really is,” says Marvin. “It’s reminiscing about the previous sparkly days and somewhat stuck in a purgatory of not being able to move on.”

Overall, the record some of the band’s darkest material to date. “Although focusing on love and relationships through much of the record’s material, we also approach new subjects like the apathy of Generation Z and a feeling of numbness towards our current political situation,” says vocalist Marvin McMahon.

“Betrayal, deception, broken hearts and hopelessness are not only central to A Motion Paralysed but they’re bleak states of being that can be seen around the globe on a daily basis,” continues McMahon, with a grimace.

So boy, oh boy, if this is their debut – there is no way other than up for this Brighton quartet. 

Here are their UK dates:
30 January – London, 229 The Venue
31 January – Sheffield, The Mulberry
04 February – Stoke On Trent, The Exchange
05 February – Birmingham, Subside