01. Precursor to Enslavement
02. Viral Re-animation
03. Regulated Disposal of Life
05. The Contaminated
06. Exist in Confinement
07. Persuasive Oppression
09. Sadistic Experiments
10. Remnants Aflame
11. Ending Intellect
[Earache | 11/09/10]
Oceano have a pretty bad rep around these parts. I personally haven’t much time for deathcore as it is, but in all fairness, if you’re going to cite a particular band as a negative influence on metal today, you should know what you’re talking about.
That said, I didn’t come into this predisposed to give this album a bad review. Oceano are liked by a lot of kids; they’re meant to be the forefront of deathcore, and so despite the severe animosity my compatriots have shown towards Contagion, surely there must be something of merit?
Well: no, no there isn’t. Not really, and not for me at least.
Maybe it’s not quite as bad as I expected, but I did honestly have to suppress the immediate urge to hit ‘stop’ as soon the poorly executed introductory build up broke into that first chuggy riff (of many). To their credit, at least they didn’t start with a breakdown, but even for them that might have been pushing it sightly.
I say poorly executed, but in reality I’m sure that’s exactly what they meant to do – but it doesn’t achieve the effect I think they were going for. There are some great bands out there who I could cite as masters of the build-up: Iron Thrones; Devil Sold His Soul; The Chariot. Whether it’s by adding new layers to the introductory passage, building an ambient soundscape, or punctuating a wall of feedback with precisely-placed beats and vocals, it should be abundantly clear that steadily bringing the volume up just doesn’t cut it.
Mercifully, Adam Warren managed to last for the entire first song without breeing. I take serious issue with this vocal form as it is – I couldn’t care less about brutality; vocals are there to convey either a message, meaning or a melody, and squealing like a pig being sodomised or a kestral having its pinion feathers torn out conveys none of these essential components. If that’s your bag, fair enough; you’ll find it here in abundance.
Funnily enough, for a band in a genre that’s supposed to be all about heaviness, Contagion really isn’t – at least not to the extent I’ve been lead to believe. The uninspired monotonal chugging contributes to the majority of this; heaviness is achieved through variation – you have to have the soft to contrast the heavy, or it just doesn’t work.
Some saving grace comes from the slower songs, such as ‘Exist in Confinement‘. Here they switch from ULTRA BR00TAL to some doomier, almost sludgy riffs, and it’s a welcome break. The guitarists even get into some semi-atmospheric lead work, almost unheard of in this genre, but it’s still pretty average stuff, still backed at times by THAT GOD-DAMN CHUGGING!
Ultimately, there is just little of aesthetic or progressive value here. I’m not saying every note of an album has to be some golden, undiscovered chord, or some mind-blowingly complex drum beat, but endless repetition of one or two vanilla riffs per song just doesn’t cut it in my book. I try to live by the mantra ‘it is better to destroy than to create what is meaningless’, and by this standard, I’m off to buy a wrecking ball.
If mindless head-banging to monotonous chugging is your thing, then roll right up! For the rest of us, I’d let this one slide. Into fresh concrete.
Oceano’s Contagion gets