The Sound of Animals Fighting’s sophomore album Lover, The Lord Has Left Us… was a very strange beast. While their first release was closer to experimental rock, their sophomore disc was extremely bizarre thanks to its lengthy experimentation and endless stream of guests. And to this day, listeners still seem to be divided on just how they feel about that album. But now, this super group has returned with The Ocean and The Sun and has cut their lineup down to only the core members and tightened up their style. The result is an incredibly engaging release that still offers some of the experimental styles showcased on earlier material but that also has enough oomph and structure to keep listeners interested.
Quite a few listeners had issues with Lover, The Lord Has Left Us… because it had more experimental filler than actual musical tracks. And while there is still some ambient and sometimes noisy filler on The Ocean and The Sun, the focus also seems to be on melodic and high energy riffs. Much like the math rock seen on Tiger and the Duke, the riffs on this album often jump between slower melodies and up-tempo post hardcore. Stylistically the band is now close to a cross between The Mars Volta and Circa Survive with a hint of The Blood Brothers or The Locust, but the instrumentalists still manage to have a style of their own. Thanks to an excellent mix of atmospheric melody and some surprisingly heavier moments this album will surely impress.
As previously mentioned, The Sound of Animals Fighting has scaled down slightly for this album. Whereas the last release featured a variety of vocalists (including Chiodos’ Craig Owens), this time around Rich Balling, Matt Embree, and Anthony Green split vocal duties. It seems entirely possible that Anthony Green will once again be the highlight for many listeners, and he impresses. Green often makes use of his trademark high pitched singing, but on this album he breaks into screams at times giving the music a slight post hardcore element. But this doesn’t mean that the other two vocalists don’t impress either, as both Balling and Embree help to add great melodies over top of the experimental instrumental arrangements.
The Ocean and The Sun is the best work yet from this super group. Although opinions are still split on their sophomore effort, fans should agree that the third release from The Sound of Animals Fighting is excellent. Thanks to its combination of the math rock and post hardcore styles from the first album and some of the experimental weirdness of the second one, this is arguably the group’s most fully realized effort yet. Here’s hoping it isn’t their last (as that has been rumored/hinted at in the past), as this project still has quite a bit of life left in it.