THE OCEAN – ‘Pelagial’

the oceanTHE OCEAN – ‘Pelagial’
As hardworking outfits go, The Ocean have to be up there with the serious globe trotters amongst us.  Two years of ceaseless road hogging, often to the far reaches of the planet, has garnered a ridiculously fanatical following that will surely lift this latest gargantuan offering out of the depths and into the stratosphere.  Musically they’ve grown over the last decade from a brave but humble Progressive Metal foal, into a thoroughbred crossbreed stallion.  Their sound incorporating bold, intense soundscapes as well as broader, traditional Metal influences that shine through a work of stunning maturity; clearly a band who’s successfully matured in public.  A submersive concept album based on oceanic pelagic depth zones, we begin on the surface with ‘Epipelagic’, a shimmering and haunting piano intro that glides into an upbeat, playful top spray before diving down into new worlds on ‘Mesopelagic: Into The Uncanny’.  We’re then led through the Bathyal, Abysso and Hadopelagic zones via huge lumbering monstrous songs replete with spiralling choral effects and nightmarish guitars.  Loic Rossetti’s vocals are a revelation, frail as a ghost one moment and grindingly macabre the next, perfectly suiting the mood.  No more so than on ‘…Impassive’ that swings into view via a splintered riff and a chorus akin to QOTSA’s Better Living Through Chemistry.  And ‘…Disequillibrated’, weaving together layered sounds with delicious guitar and explosive rhythmn work.  Five songs in you realise there hasn’t been a whiff of filler – something you couldn’t always say of their previous work, hitting their stride on ‘…Boundless Vasts’ with unstoppable vocals and killer early Mastodon styled guitar work.  In early commentary about Pelagial, lead guitarist and songwriter Robin Staps alluded to very few if any vocals, attempting to cram full instrumentation into a double release.  It seems something changed that plan and thank goodness, because although the instrumental is available, the combination of vocal and mood experimentation has paid off handsomely.  Allowing the group to concentrate on arranging the material and condensing everything to maximum effect, avoiding the procrastination which has occassionally blighted their work in the past.  The nine minute heavyweight ‘…Let Them Believe’ is a vast expansive Oceansize style creation that’s full of imagination and cleverness; offering the listener a pleasing diversity before the full on bludgeoning fayre of ‘…Cognitive Dissonance’ and ‘…The Origin Of Our Wishes’.  In short, Pelagial is little short of a Metal masterpiece that’s as dense as it is ambitious; a record that’s guaranteed to take you deep down into the abyss.  (9)
STEVE FLETCHER

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