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The Ocean - "Aeolian" (CD)

The Ocean - "Aeolian" CD cover image

"Aeolian" track listing:

1. The City In The Sea
2. Dead Serious And Highly Professional
3. Austerity
4. Killing The Flies
5. Une Saison En Enfer
6. Necrobabes.com
7. One With The Ocean
8. Swoon
9. Queen Of The Food-Chain
10. Inertia

Reviewed by on June 10, 2009

"Texture and subtlety are rampant in The Ocean’s vocals, and they give depth and layers to the music underneath."

The Ocean’s full name is The Ocean Collective, which is fitting. There are 11 members fully credited in the notes, including seven vocalists. Members of the band have described The Ocean as “ambient soundtrack doom-rock.” While generally The Ocean can be put into the doom metal genre, they are much more eclectic than most other doom metal bands and “Aeolian” puts every facet of their variety on display.

“The City In The Sea” starts the album off with a strong death metal vibe, complete with down-tuned repetitive riffs and guttural bellows. The song also has breakdowns that move the piece into sludge metal meets hardcore territory, with staccato punk-styled riffs and high-pitched shrieks. The band continually revisits all of the musical themes throughout the song while continually adding new ones, making it a big jumble of screams, shrieks, and riffs.

The album continues this way from front to back. “Dead Serious and Highly Professional” is almost straight hardcore with higher-tuned instruments, very staccato music, high-pitched shrieks, and a breakdown all crammed into one and a half minutes. “Austerity” is a nine minute marathon of dense chords and soundscapes. “Necrobabes.com” is another short song, but is closest in style to melodic death metal.

Much of the variety comes from the multitude of vocalists. Each has a distinct style and voice, and the vocal changes throughout the album are done effectively. The Ocean mixes musical and vocal styles. For example, a death metal shriek may be laid over a section that is inspired by drone metal. Texture and subtlety are rampant in The Ocean’s vocals, and they give depth and layers to the music underneath.

The music itself is very dense and challenging. While the band never abandons melody and rhythm completely to a dissonant wall of distortion and screams, the sonic landscape is a maze of tempo and time signature shifts, texture shifts, and instrumental interplay. This is hard enough to follow when it is done by a prog metal band like Dream Theater. The Ocean combines that level of musical experimentation with the extreme nature of doom, death, and black metal, making it almost unlistenable in long doses. With none of the songs offering respite from the onslaught, the listener gets crushed under an avalanche of ever-changing prog doom metal.

It isn’t hard to picture the 11-member band sitting around a campfire, clothed in hemp pants and tie-dye shirts, singing until the wee hours. Instead of Kumbaya as the song of choice, they would belt out face-melting metal before smiling contentedly at the new kind of music they have just created and then gently passing out on the grass from the effort.

Highs: The musical diversity on the album ensures there is something for everyone.

Lows: Non-dedicated listeners may find this album to be inaccessible.

Bottom line: If Progressive Doom Metal was a genre, this band would be the best.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)