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I feel that the only hope for today and tomorrow’s deathcore will be in either its brevity; finding just the right gimmick; the delivery method(s) of the music; or in bands tapping into deeper emotions lyrically and thematically than the usual dark, violent and graphic mess.
In terms of brevity, the one thing that I really admired about ‘The God Delusion’, the debut album from Brisbane’s A Night In Texas, was that that record wasn’t even 30 minutes long. See, half of those songs fell well under the three-minute mark, and such lengths ensured that cuts like ‘Throne Of Flies 2’, ‘Death Scripture’, and ‘The Priest Of lechery’ remained brutal and punishing but also effective and succinct. In retrospect, this is what drew me into Suicide Silence’s 2007 debut, ‘The Cleansing’, with its three singles, ‘Bludgeoned To Death’, ‘The Price Of Beauty’ and my personal favourite ‘Unanswered’ all being short but intensive affairs. Hell, even ‘Eyes Sewn Shut’ and ‘Girl Of Glass’ steered clear of being unnecessarily long, and this was for the betterment of that album; which is still one of Suicide Silence’s best records, mind you.
Song-length is also my key point of contention for the always technical and theatrical Shadow Of Intent and fellow Sumerian Records outfit, Slaughter To Prevail. For more often than not, what should be these great exercises in epic musicianship and grand displays of intense metal instead results in exercises of one’s endurance and patience. This isn’t helped when often the actual delivery methods – run-of-the-mill lyric videos and proper film clips – are simply same old cliché shit in style or are just merely glorified play-through videos. Hence why my all-time favourite lyric video still remains as Gravemind’s ‘The Death Of Teyolia’, due it being a different and a far more engaging method of channelling the music.
In terms of gimmicks, a favourite EP of mine for this year has been Reptilian Civilian’s ‘It’s Impossible That Reptiles Don’t Exist’. Partly because of it’s memey, ironic reptile conspiracy theme and lyrics but also because those six songs do not at all fuck around! (And because it’s an overall short EP, too). For having a good or weird gimmick will help you stand out and get attention but you will also need the good songs to back that up, and thankfully, that Aussie outfit really delivered on both fronts.
As for the last of my openings point, no, I don’t think deathcore as a wider genre will reach a higher emotional state in the near future, though one can certainly hope it will. (The only band I can think off the top of my head right now fitting such criteria is Perth’s Make Them Suffer). But you know what? That’s okay for the time being, so long as deathcore band’s like Illinois wrecking crew Oceano can keep on creating records such as ‘Revelation’.
Now, despite ‘Revelation‘ being a pure, unadulterated deathcore record (read: no clean singing present), and a solid album at that, there really is nothing new here for Oceano. In fact, it’s as by the numbers as deathcore could get these days.
From the down-tuned, high-gain, noise-gated riffs and chugs, the atmospheric-like melodic guitar work that skirts above said chugs, the eerie virtual strings used, the insane low end of the bass, the blast beats (which are admittedly kept to a minimum here), and the breakdowns; it’s exactly how you think any contemporary deathcore record would sound. Now, similar to say, The Faceless or our own deathcore warriors Aversions Crown, there’s a sci-fi theme continually running throughout this record’s narrative; discussing humanity’s pitfalls, our negative impact upon the Earth, how we should change our ways, our overall position in the cosmos, and how we have disappointed the above beings on the celestial hierarchy that we apparently owe our very existence to. This is meant to more or less follow-on from 2015’s ‘Ascendants‘ album but goddamnit, reading this record’s lyrics is like skimming over a lore Wiki page for the Halo series. Elsewhere, even inhuman vocalist Adam Warren and his truly evil screams and growls – while as impressive as ever – still aren’t anything new for metal such as this.
As such, if you’ve previously ventured into the heavy and brutal waters of Oceano’s past records, then this new release will be one of eerily familiar territory. However, despite these small caveats, ‘Revelation‘ shows Oceano doing deathcore very well with what is also their shortest, punchiest, and arguably filthiest record to date. (That last part is meant as a compliment, just to be clear).
What bolsters this is that across this consistent ten song run, there’s only a trio of songs that pass the three-minute mark; the titular track, ‘The Great Tribulation‘, and ‘Illusions Unravel‘ – the last of which only goes over said mark by just three seconds. What this means is that all up is that this quartet’s solid, demonically heavy yet generic sound never stays around any longer than it ever needs to. Unlike my cousins at Christmas. From opener ‘Dark Prophecy‘ right up until the record’s eponymous swansong, Adam Warren and his fellow bandmates don’t waste your time or theirs, and I really appreciate that. As it ticks off a big chunk of what I think will give deathcore much more merit moving forward but also in maintaining this album’s full impact and keeping the band from getting in their own way with overblown songwriting.
Finally, no, there’s no sonic or thematic gimmick here with Oceano’s latest outing. ‘Revelation‘ is also not a very personalised or overly emotional release, and Oceano’s delivery is akin to countless other deathcore bands. Yet in saying that, it is short, to the point, punchy, and incredibly brutal and heavy. So hey, one out of four ain’t bad, and neither is ‘Revelation‘.
I think there is hope yet for deathcore with bands like Oceano dropping consistent album’s like ‘Revelation’. However, hopefully, Oceano will become one of the key bands of this ever-wearying genre to really push the envelope further into new sounds and ideas. Until then, this record will do for now.
1. Dark Prophecy
2. Lucid Reality
3. Path To Extinction
4. The Great Tribulation
5. Illusions Unravel
6. Majestic 12
7. Final Form
8. The Event
9. Human Harvest
‘Revelation’ is out now via Sumerian Records. Stream it in full below. Also, the mix here is so much clearer and tighter than on the band’s past couple albums, and we have mix/mastering engineer, Buster Odehol, to deeply thank for that!