"Anthropocentric" (Metal Blade; 2010)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

Much like their last effort, Germany's The Ocean unveil a 10-track companion endeavor a mere seven months later entitled "Anthropocentric." This unit's latest effort marks the first time where band founder Robin Staps allowed outside songwriting influence into the mix, undoubtedly topping up the squad's already abundant diversity ("Willie Zum Untergang"), yet this affair finds The Ocean decisively heavier and less expansive than its counterpart ("She Was The Universe") as well.

Nonetheless, this quintet maintains the genuine compositional quality and structural cohesion they are lauded for by meshing post metal melancholy, prog metal majesty and the occasional tech metal tweaks that pop up intermittently ("The Grand Inquisitor II: Roots and Locusts").

The Ocean's usual bounty of metallic texture is ramped up considerably on this disc, accompanied by a extra helping of aggression throughout that assists in distributing the plethora of sludgy doom metal moments The Ocean consistently provides ("Sewers of the Soul").

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 "Heliocentric" (Metal Blade; 2010)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

Exploratory German metal troupe The Ocean returns with a decisively mellowed-out vibe on the collective’s latest forward thinking 10-track endeavor (the first half of yet another double album from this prolific unit) entitled "Heliocentric."

Never ones to shy away from thinking out of the box, the topic of Christianity from its influence on the medieval period to its relevance in the modern world is what this ambitious crew tackles this time around, projecting a powerful poignancy both lyrically and musically. Imbuing a noticeably increased influence of the likes of Cynic and Opeth at the few interludes that find the outfit shifting into overdrive while siding with a piano-heavy and highly-orchestrated instrumentation approach overall, this disc’s luxuriously melancholic overtones come at the expense of the band’s decision to subdue their sinuous sludge metal sound and all but eliminate a fierce sonic crush in lieu of constant streams of apathetic ambiance.

New lead singer Loic Rossetti displays a stellar range that follows dynamic shifts well while the rich compositions exert the softer side of post-metal with an adroit sense of gracefulness that allows tender piano and vocal deliveries to resonate with stark conviction.

Those familiar with this constantly evolving band should proceed with caution however, as the soundscape has been significantly altered and this is a much different release than expected, an aspect bound to turn off those expecting something similar to previous outings. Yet what "Heliocentric" lacks in syrupy density it makes up for by producing a sleek atmosphere that is fearless enough to veer off the grid to capture raw emotion from the other end of the scope.

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"Precambrian" (Metal Blade; 2007)

Reviewed by Metal Mark

This is actually a two disc set and each disc has its own title. The first disc is "Hadean/Archean" and the second disc is entitled "Proterozoic."

A two disc set for a studio album might seem a little overwhelming at first, but really it was done because each disc was meant to be a separate entity and indeed they are. The band's name is fitting given that their sound is very vast and constantly in motion. The Ocean have been compared to everyone from Isis to Mastodon and those comparisons are not incorrect, but they are not entirely accurate either. 

Basically The Ocean is a death metal band, but they go far beyond that genre by bringing elements of jazz, various progressives elements and, well, just some odd tones. Unlike other progressive bands, they don't do a lot of blending of sounds, at least not for long period of times. The sounds are more separate and perhaps more deliberate in their approach. 

What I liked most about this album was the band's control and confidence to let sounds and notes hang for awhile to really get the most out of everything that they were doing here. The approach is very much of a band building songs in layers rather than just throwing everything into the pot. They also seem content to let the songs go in different ways as some fly on, some smash and some just kind of float out there for a while taking you with them. 

"Precambrian" works, although you may have to be a little patient at times due to the nature of their approach. My only real gripe was that the vocals are mainly so typical death metal style that it doesn't completely do justice to the music. 

Really a fine album from a band that seems to be forging their own path.

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"Aeolian" (Metal Blade; 2006)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

When you name your band something as broad as The Ocean, you best be prepared for questions. Well, at least this German troupe, who’ve incorporated six different vocalists on this recording, play a versatile array of metal that meshes the ambiance of Neurosis with the crushing might of New England metalcore like Converge (whose singer, Nate Newton, appears here). 

With "Aeolian," The Ocean push forth a sprawling 10-track affair with lush, perilous tracks like the nearly ten minute “Austerity” (which shifts mood and time signature effortlessly), and “Killing the Flies” which demonstrates the collective’s belligerence by exposing its bruising side.

There’s a lot to take in on "Aeolian" that requires a love of heavy music and an undistracted ear. Once that time has been set aside and this CD experienced, you’ll understand the power of The Ocean’s intricate approach to extreme metal. 

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2011 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 22 Jan 2023 16:29:44 -0500.