Friday 10 May 2013

The Ocean - Pelagial (Album Review)

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 30/4/2013
Label : Metal Blade Records/Pelagic Records
Pelagial, album track list:
1. Epipelagic
2. Mesopelagic: The Uncanny
3. Bathyalpelagic I: Impasses
4. Bathyalpelagic II: The Wish in Dreams
5. Bathyalpelagic III: Disequillibrated
6. Abyssopelagic I: Boundless Vasts
7. Abyssopelagic II: Signals of Anxiety
8. Hadopelagic I: Omen of the Deep
9. Hadopelagic II: Let Them Believe
10. Demersal: Cognitive Dissonance
11. Benthic: The Origin of Our Wishes
pe·la·gi·al [puh-ley-jee-uh l] - 1. Of, relating to, or living in open oceans or seas rather than waters adjacent to land or inland waters; such as, pelagic birds. 2. Living or growing at or near the surface of the ocean, far from land, as certain organisms. 3. Of or pertaining to the sea; marine

The Ocean's past two years of existence have been some of the most exhilarating in their eleven year history. The band completed tours in North America and Europe, as is common for many bands, but they added Russia, including Siberia, as well as China, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, and Australia to the collage of stamps in their passports. Opeth, Dillinger Escape Plan, Between The Buried and Me and Devin Townsend are only some of the bands that The Ocean have supported on tour during their campaign to promote Heliocentric and Anthropocentric. The band's tireless efforts have afforded them one of the most truly worldwide fan bases in heavy music.

Now, after returning to Berlin, Switzerland (an oft-used inside joking, pointing out the member's origins), The Ocean have resurfaced with what could be their deepest and most trailblazing piece of work to date, Pelagial: a progressive musical journey, written, recorded, mixed and to-be-performed-live as one single 53-minutes piece of music. Mixed and mastered by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia, Witchcraft) at Fascination Street Studios in Örebrö, Sweden, Pelagial is set to be released on April 26th / 29th (Europe) & April 30th (North America / world) through Metal Blade Records
Line up :
Drums: Luc Hess
Guitars: Robin Staps, Jonathan Nido
Bass: Louis Jucker
Vocals: Loic Rossetti
Something has risen.  From the depths, from the reaches where the pressure can crush cars and break skulls like walnuts, comes a sound.  The Ocean’s sound.  Their latest album ‘Pelagial’ has burst onto the musical coastline like a tsunami, leaving people shocked, shaken, and praying for a second wave. 
The album itself is less an album and more a musical odyssey: it takes you on a journey through the layers of the seas, from the light depths of the Epipelagic, to the Bathyalpelagic, all the way down to the dark and terrifying Benthic region.  Prepare yourself for the descent; you may not be the same when you resurface. 
It’s an innocuous start to proceedings: ‘Epipelagic’ is a piano-driven, orchestral piece with smatterings of water sounds put to good effect, almost as though you’re dabbling your toes in the water, testing it and enjoying the new sensations washing about you.  The smooth transition into ‘Mesopelagic: Into the Uncanny’ is so subtle you find yourself almost floating.  Look down, you can’t see the sand.  Just water.  At 2 minutes into the second track, Loic Rossetti’s vocals slip like a current into the mix, and then suddenly a storm erupts.  The guitars kick in, the drums ramp up, and you get dragged deeper and deeper away from the shore. 
Things begin to get heavy as ‘Bathyalpelagic I: Impasses’ grabs you by the leg and takes you down.  Try and take a breath, and instead find your lungs filled with roiling guitars and sweeping piano.  The more the song continues the deeper and darker it becomes, and the more out of your depth you feel.  ‘Bathyalpelagic II: The Wish in Dreams’ is a frantic, almost Chimaira-esque tune that twists and turns like a tornado, with some beautiful guitar attacks from Robin Staps and Jonathan Nido and almost Steve Harris-like basslines from Louis Jucker. 
When the piano starts to lull you into a soothing state, the guitars and drums slowly, inexorably keep your downward trajectory going and ‘Bathyalpelagic III: Disequillibrated’ keeps your journey going.  It’s a track which starts slow, and then the pace becomes as ferocious as the vocals, turning itself into a dark beast intent on swallowing you whole. 
If you looked up now, you wouldn’t be able to see the light.  This is ‘Abyssopelagic I: Boundless Vasts’, where it is cold, dark, and crushingly intense.  You are reaching the lowest reaches, and the hypnotic, doom-laden guitars are here to show you how lost you have become.  This is a track of wonders: from heavy riffery to violin-laden breaks, it again eases flawlessly into the next tune, ‘Abyssopelagic II: Signals of Anxiety’, where it is so minimal at the start you have to fight the feelings of utter isolation it manages to instill.  The drums build up the tension like hearing a door creak open when you’re the only one in the house, and Loic’s voice is a siren, tempting you into deeper and darker depths. 
‘Hadopelagic’’s two-part epic, ‘I: Omen of the Deep’ and ‘II: Let Them Believe’ must be spoken about in the same paragraph.  Part I is an instrumental introduction to the new depths, a short slice of doom riffs that open the floodgates for Part II to pour through like a vengeful tide.  Clocking in at a massive 9 minutes 18 seconds, ‘Let Them Believe’ is a slow burn that explodes in your ears like a depth charge, rending you asunder with gleeful abandon.  It’s a sweeping, orchestral movement that ignites the imagination and spurs the senses.  After the track rolls to a breathless halt, the depths bubble about you.  It’s time to go even lower. 
‘Demersal: Cognitive Dissonance’ is just a whisper shorter than ‘Let Them Believe’ but is no less expansive.  It starts with a light section of guitar play before the crush comes battering down and the heaviness pushes against your chest.  Luc Hess powers down with the drums on this with a maniacal flair, pushing the other members to greater intensity.  Again, this song sweeps and soars, but is a much darker animal than the preceding ‘Let Them Believe’.  The doomy, trudging tone this song takes as it nears the finale is as murky as any Candlemass diatribe.  Heroic display indeed from the German quintet. 
As the guitars toll like sunken bells, your journey has reached its final destination.  Here be the lair of the Deep Ones, and ‘Benthic: The Origin of Our Wishes’ is the theme of those terrifying, primordial creatures.  The pace is as slow and methodical as the currents, buffeting and slamming you to and fro with little heed to the well-being of your ears.  This is the finale of your adventure: are you alive?  Does it feel good to be alive?  Breathe deeply: you have just experienced one of the finest metal offerings of this year, if not the decade.  The Ocean’s ‘Pelagial’ is the deepest, darkest musical descent you will make.  Get ready to face the depths. 
Words by : Chris Markwell
As always show your support to the band. You can buy the record from Pelagic Records in Europe here , download at the usual places and in North America here. Thanks to Andy @ Metal Blade for the hook up as ever.