The discovery of a new band is always exciting. Will it be something you’ve heard countless times? An experience that leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Or is it a treat from which you cannot stop consuming? I wanted to take a trip back in time to reminisce about bands/albums that not only introduced me to heavy music, but kept me coming back for more…
From The Archive: The Ocean – Precambrian
Visualize an ocean, a large body of water, that at times can appear vast and endless with no conception of what may lay beneath the tide. This is what The Ocean Collective, or The Ocean, as they’re more commonly known, conveys through their music and lyrics. They are not only musicians, but also storytellers, sort of a “thinking man’s metal” band, by exploring themes and stories from the pages of history. With the release of their 2007 album, Precambrian, The Ocean took it upon themselves to base the concept around the early part of the formation of Earth, thereby splitting the album into two-parts; Hadean/Archaean (disc one) and Proterozoic (disc two).
The Ocean are not your typical band, they transcend a whole number of sub genres ranging from doom to death metal and even metal core, which is evident on the more heavy and raw sound of disc one. Whereas, disc two features the inclusion of symphonic and electronic elements into their sound, giving it more of a post-metal feel. The Ocean work diligently on their craft and Precambrian is proof of that, but even with such a major undertaking, The Ocean even enlisted in the aid of other musicians as well as the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra to help bring their two-disc album to life.
One can only imagine what might have been going on during the early formation of the Earth, and very few traces of this period remain for us to study, but if The Ocean have any say in the matter, it was loud, chaotic and unforgiving. And this is exactly how the album begins, with unrelenting brutality, utilizing a heavy focus on low-end chugging and simple pull offs and hammers. In short, the first five songs showcase the bands foray into sludge and death metal, relying heavily on their concept and thrusting the listener into the endless possibilities and opportunities of the Earth’s physical changes. The first track alone, “Hadean”, will please any fan of metal, by offering low-end chugging riffs, pummeling bass lines, thunderous drums and earth shattering vocals. It’s at this point The Ocean perfectly sets the harsh tone for the first part of their concept, and in doing so, making its counterpart (disc two) much more beautiful and serene.
The Ocean’s intelligence and strength in songwriting is really something to stand back and behold, especially on Proterozoic (disc two) of Precambrian, where sheer depth and experimentation take the forefront. Redirecting the initial tone derived from the previous disc, The Ocean take a more melodic approach on disc two. The moment the evocative instrumental “Siderian” greets your ears; you already begin to feel at ease with its post-rock meets jazz style. This continues into the next track, “Rhyacian”, which begins with a slow driving intro built on repetition and it’s here that the track breaks into its first set of clean vocals. These vocals add depth and an element of beauty to the brooding riffs as the song continues to grow into a furious crescendo of harmonic yet crushing guitar arrangements, which culminates into the albums longest and most epic track.
Even after the final notes of “Rhyacian” ring out, The Ocean refuse to let up, as the multi-layered post-metal melodies and brutality of “Orosirian”, which boasts an amazing string section, and “Calymmian” are sure to satisfy any music lover. From the heavy yet haunting sounds of “Ectasian’s” opening piano keys to its full on doom metal approach juxtaposing against the more melodic elements of “Stenian” it’s quite evident that disc two highly outweighs disc one in terms of creativity. And while the ideas behind each disc are sustainable on there own, it’s when listened to as a whole, that the outcome is something to truly admire.
The true beauty of Precambrian is how primal yet evolved an album can be, and much like the formation of the Earth, this album can have an affect on ones view of music and the potential at which a band can take it.
The Ocean – “Orosirian: For The Great Blue Cold Now Reigns”