The Highdives ‘Ocean Blood’ - Album Review

Written by: Chris Harrington

Barrie, ON power-punk trio The Highdives are releasing their debut full-length album entitled ‘Ocean Blood’ On January 18th, 2019. Formed in 2016, The Highdives have ascended within the local music scene and beyond, sharing the stage with the likes of Cancer Bats, The Flatliners, Black Cat Attack, Ten Foot Pole, and The Penske File. The band consists of vocalist/guitarist Scott Murray, bassist/backing vocalist Matt Galbraith, and drummer Shawn Moreau, who have previously played in bands together before creating The Highdives.

Their first EP, ‘Maybe I’ll Be Okay’, was released in 2017 and followed by several shows throughout Ontario in support of the album. In February 2018, they returned to the studio to begin working on Ocean Blood with Andrew Shropshire of Postwave Sound. The 11 song full-length was completed in May 2018 and mastered by Steve Rizun of Drive Studios.

The Highdives are a band I know quite well, as they are a big part of the Barrie, ON music scene. Their live shows are energetic and their dedication to music is obvious. Since first seeing them live in 2017, I have watched them land big shows, win over crowd after crowd, and stay true to their punk rock roots. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Ocean Blood and I was not disappointed.

Wasting no time, the first track called ‘Brace Yourself’ kicks off the album with the fast-paced punk rock expected from the band, setting the tone brilliantly for the rest of the tracks. As I listened, it became quite apparent that The Highdives are quickly growing as musicians, showing a seasoned maturity both instrumentally and lyrically. What sets them apart from the average punk-rock outfit is their ability to contrast the harsh vocals, pounding drums, and rapid-fire riffs with melody, creating a perfectly balanced music experience that never left me bored.

The track “All My Friends” was released as a single last year and, lasting just over a minute in duration, is an all-out punk assault. A few songs later, you are introduced to the softer side of The Highdives in an unexpected but delightful shift to the emotionally-charged ballad ‘Sophomore’. A true testament to their wide musical range, Sophomore was a chill-inducing journey that hits you right in the feels.

The title-track ‘Ocean Blood’ came next, and what stood out to me the most was the vocals – shredding punk screams leading into clean vocals (think The Killers, but punk!) and back again.

Overall, this is easily one of the best punk albums I have heard come out of Barrie in a while. The overall contrast of punk and melody, the songs feel honest and emotional, the very chantable (only word I can think of that fits!) lyrics, and incredible sound of the album are just a few of the many things that stood out as I listened. It feels like you are being taken on a journey full of pain, regret, anger, but triumph and strength as well. Connecting with music on a deeper level is an important part of the experience, and Ocean Blood invites you right in and guides you through the ups and downs that make the album. I would highly, highly recommend that any punk rock fan (and beyond!) check this album out!

The Highdives are playing Friday, January 18th in Newmarket at The Grey Goat in Newmarket, with Five Knuckle Chuckle, Audio Visceral, and Green Light District. The next day they play their hometown of Barrie at The Foxx Lounge Rock Bar & Hotdoggery along with Ship of Fools and Audio Visceral. More details on these events, as well as information on upcoming shows, how to purchase Ocean Blood, and much more, visit them on Facebook & Bandcamp.

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