For Fans Of
I picked this record up at the
tail end of 2007 and it’s taken me up until now to review it. Why?
Because there’s so much going on within these two CD’s that I’ve
needed a good six weeks just to get my head around it.
While being something of a big
deal in their native Germany, The Ocean have a relatively low
profile throughout the rest of the world, something which is sure to
change in the near future as Precambrian features some of the
most devastating and emotive metal since Cult Of Luna first assaulted
our ear drums.
Clocking in at close to ninety
minutes, Precambrian has been divided into two separate movements…
the technically proficient and crushing Hadean/Archaean disc, and the second, more subdued effort known as Proterozoic.
Both portions of the record are equally as impressive and showcase a
band that has mastered a multitude of different sounds and song writing
Taking its queues from time signature
defying Swedes Meshuggah, the record’s first disc hits you
like a fucking sledgehammer. I’m not sure exactly how many of TheOcean’s nine full time members (yep, nine) are playing guitar
on the lead track “Hadean”, but the thick riffs coupled with the
polymetric drum patterns and haunting keyboards sound enormous. “Eoarchaean”
kicks of with a riff that would make the mighty Devin Townsend
proud, which somehow makes way for a throaty chorus melody that becomes
the focal point of the song.
“Palaeoarchaean” sees the
band getting in touch with their discordant, hardcore roots. At just
under three minutes it’s the shortest track on both of the discs,
one which utilizes a straight forward approach in the drumming department
to great effect. Ambling along with a stoned groove is “Mesoarchaean”,
the sparse guitar work combining with Mike’s savage growl to form
one hell of a racket, while “Neoarchaean” is picks the pace up again
with The Ocean’s ode to thrash influenced punk rock.
As impressive as the record’s
first disc is, Proterozoic is an absolute masterpiece. As if the introduction
of “Siderian” wasn’t haunting enough, The Ocean have incorporated
saxophone flourishes into their already atmospheric sound, which leads
perfectly into “Rhyacian”, a song which uses minimal drum arrangements
and punchy bass lines to get its message across without relying on the
crunch of their guitarists… that is until The Ocean collective
kick into top gear a few minutes later and produce one of the heaviest
tunes on Precambrian.
Choosing a favourite song from
such an ambitious record was incredibly difficult, but after repeated
listens “Orosirian” still has my attention. With vocal contributions
from none other than Nate Newton (of Converge fame) the
track is as epic as it is heavy, successfully integrating a live string
section into The Ocean’s existing wall of noise. “Statherian”
acts as an interlude of sorts as it allows the band’s more traditional
instrumentalists take the lead. The combination of violins, violas and
cellos makes it even more inspiring.
If I had to choose one song which
best summed up all of The Ocean’s ambitious ideas into one
neat package it would be “Calymmian”. Starting off with barely audible
guitars (compared to the thunderous sounds that populate the rest of
the album) and a series of samples and soundscapes, the tune manages
to incorporate almost every instrument that The Ocean collective
have at their disposable… and at no time does it sound over crowded
or self indulgent. Just as you think the track is about to time out
it manages to absorb some of the band’s heaviest moments into the
delicate sounds that are already present.
heavy song with a pronounced Middle Eastern influence, while the opening
moments “Stenian” could be mistaken for a lounge CD and “Tonian”
has the same creepy, metallic vibe that Mr Bungle first unleashed upon
an unsuspecting public, which just leaves “Cryogenian” to close
the record out with its piano and string led instrumental.
If you’re a fan of heavy music
in any way, shape or form then this is a record you need to hear. Simple.
Hadean/Archaean (Disc 1)
Proterozoic (Disc 2)