The Ocean

Anthropocentric

01. Anthropocentric
02. The Grand Inquisitor I: Karamazov Baseness
03. She Was The Universe
04. For He That Wavereth…
05. The Grand Inquisitor II: Roots & Locusts
06. The Grand Inquisitor III: A Tiny Grain of Faith
07. Sewers of the Soul
08. Wille Zum Untergang
09. Heaven TV
10. The Almightiness Contradiction

[Metal Blade | 11/09/10]

Two albums in a year is not an easy feat to pull off with flying colors, unless you’re either Devin Townsend or The Ocean, the latter of which are putting out their their 2nd album of 2010, Anthropocentric, a mere 7 months after its companion album Heliocentric. While Heliocentric was greeted with mixed, but generally favorable reception, I thought the album was excellent. I can see how established fans of The Ocean could dismiss the album’s art rock leanings though, with prominent clean singing and two piano-centered ballads. You’d definitely need an open mind coming into Heliocentric. Despite that, it’s one of my favorite albums of the year.

But fret not, fans of The Ocean - Anthropocentric is not a simple rehashing of the ideas explored on Heliocentric; it’s the next logical step in the concept of Christianity’s influence on science and philosophy for the worse, which bridges the stylistic gap that was present between Precambrian and Heliocentric. Anthropocentric serves as both a musical prequel but a lyrical sequel in that regard, and Stapps & Co pull it off with expertise. If you thought Heliocentric was missing something, Anthropocentric should be just what you were hoping for.

As I mentioned, Anthropocentric fills in the stylistic evolution between the post-metal sludgy riffs and growls of Precambrian and the softer prog rock style and epic sung choruses present on Heliocentric. The guitar work is much more technical and present on Anthropocentric, as you’ll no doubt take notice to on “The Grand Inquisitor II: Roots and Locusts” and “Sewers of the Soul,” which includes a fantastic guitar solo. Sludgy riffs and guitar licks make themselves known, which should please many of those hoping for a heavier record.

“The Grand Inquisitor III: The Tiny Grain of Faith” is definitely an oddball, complete with hypnotic instrumentation and haunting female vocals and string instruments which makes for a stand-out interlude. “Wille Zum Untergang” (German for “Will To Collapse”) takes a beautiful instrumental break that really sets this album apart as a whole, serving as a sort of climax for not only Anthropocentric, but for the course of both albums.

The vocal work on Anthropocentric feels more matured and emotionally involved at times. Screaming vocals make a much larger presence this time around, making the sung choruses that much more epic and memorable in contrast. “She Was The Universe” and “Heaven TV” feel much grander and will lodge themselves in your head for days because of this. The sung ballads haven’t been booted altogether, though. “For He That Wavereth…” is a beautiful and brilliantly executed track which helps to diversify the album and keep the ball rolling at a steady pace. “The Almightiness Contradiction” is a strong ending that is a logical conclusion to this double-album concept, closing with the lyrics, “There’s no one here that knows it all. Is there something there beyond the world we know?”

Despite the criticisms of Christianity that these albums offer and any arguments that may result, there’s still no concrete answer that is currently being offered, and that’s a sort of sub-plot that is offered up. Thoughtful closure was much needed and it is appreciated. The Ocean have certainly outdone themselves on Anthropocentric. Albums this great don’t come along that often. With Heliocentric and Anthropocentric under their belts, The Ocean have taken the year by storm. A lot of older The Ocean fans have not been pleased with the direction of -centric albums, and I can see why they would be upset with the change in dynamic and sound. I however, wouldn’t be upset if they continued on this path, as Anthropocentric is one of the best albums to come out all year.

The Ocean – Anthropocentric gets…

5/5

- JR