Games Meet Metal: The Oceans' Heliocentric: Another disturbying review

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Oceans' Heliocentric: Another disturbying review

This is The Ocean's fourth album which is set to be released on Metal Blade records on April 13th. Heliocentric is the first of two albums set to be released this year. The other is titled Anthropocentric and is scheduled for a November release. I have never heard of The Ocean and when Riff gave it to me to review all he said was "Give this a listen!" so I had no idea what to expect. Unfortunately, I cannot compare this album to their previous releases so if there are some die hard The Ocean fans reading this I can't answer your "Is it as good as ALBUM TITLE?" question. The record is a concept album and the story/theme is about the rise of the heliocentric world (Earth is round and revolves around the sun). The band uses a number of bible verses as their inspiration as well as the studies of Charles Darwin and Richard Dawkins. If you want more info on the album you can go to the Metal Blade page to check it out. And, as always, check out my impressions of the record after the jump.

Not knowing anything about The Ocean, I did a little research on Wikipedia to try to figure out what I was about to listen to. To my dismay, the wiki article on The Ocean is pretty small and doesn't go into as much detail as I was hoping. It basically told me that they were an experimental metal band out of Germany and that they have a number of different musicians playing with them live, and in the studio. Basically, these guys aren't your regular metal band. The most recent news is that The Ocean have parted ways with their former vocalist Mike Pilat and his replacement will be Loic Rossetti. From this information, I couldn't really gauge what they would sound like so I threw all caution to the wind and started the album.

About two minutes into the album's second track Frimament, I knew that this would be something I enjoy. I am a fan of artists like Tool, Porcupine Tree and Isis, and The Ocean sound a lot like them. Okay maybe not early 90's Tool, but definitely their later stuff. Anyway, Firmament is a seven-and-a-half minute song that has a nice slow foundation that explodes into a heavy, guitar driven chorus. Metaphysics of the Hangman, The Origin of the Species and Swallowed By the Earth share the same type of ferocity, only to slow things down during the verses to tell the story. The music doesn't leave room for a lot of solos, so you won't find any guitar wanking on this album. That's not to say that their isn't anything for the tech-freaks to enjoy. There are some excellent fills and odd time changes to keep you happy.

Throughout the record they stick to mostly clean vocals but they aren't scared to treat us with some screams and growls. Ptolemy Was Wrong and Epiphany are the two ballads on the album and they are beautifully composed and well performed. They offer a nice change of pace to the record and allow the listener to see that these guys can impress us no matter what kind of music they're playing. Piano is the center instrument in both of these songs, and I can easily hear these songs played alongside other soft rock hits.

Again, I can't tell you how this album is compared to their previous albums. What I can tell you is that I thoroughly enjoyed this album, and I will try to get my hands on their back catalog as soon as possible. The Ocean gets a Slaytanic rating from me, even if they're closer to Coldplay than Slayer.

1 comment:

  1. Crystal clear but flat sounding production, some embarrassingly cheesy arrangements and those clean but somehow pre-pubescent vocals.

    The concept is as interesting as ever but the lyrics seem often awkward and lack the poetry of their previous records.

    This new The Ocean album is a major surprise, but not a good one...