In the desserts of Texas comes forth a surprising tale of ‘love and despair’. Three albums in and Oceans of Slumber are beginning to climb their way higher. Coming a long way from both Texas and 2011, The Banished Heart is said third album. Bearing the Prog Metal cross and boasting a female lead vocalist, that feels like a slow Sharon den Adel at her deepest.
What comes in The Banished Heart is a long album bearing long songs with moments of melodic symphony and a very polished Metal hiding behind very deliberate and dominant vocals. The odd moment of growls bears the bands teeth but these moments are few and far between. Evident by the piano and vocal sections prominent throughout the album’s title track; Oceans of Slumber focus and rely heavily on the weight given to their vocalist - Cammie Gilbert. This is both their strength and weakness. Cammie Gilbert can very much sing and give a haunting melody to each and every song and it overshadows what only feels like an obligatory Metal backing from guitars and drums. There to give strength to the vocals from time to time.
Tracks like ‘At Dawn’, ‘Etiolation’ and, despite some faults - ‘The Banished Heart’, feel like the most accomplished moments on the album. Managing to bring all elements together for some powerful melodies that give each song a story and a journey verging on the epic but never quiet there. Each brings the instruments from background to giving the songs a powerful presence. They also show how to use vocals a lot more sparingly compared to their counterparts. They still are the forefront but the songs are allowed to breath a bit more.
When all is said and done and the instruments are put to rest, the band have a polished and matured sound that feels like it should be more than it is. The Banished Heart is a great piece of Metal and a good example of a powerful force for Female fronted Metal. But they never know how to be sparing with their strengths. Most of the excitement lost before it’s explored and allowing The Banished Heart to fit comfortably in a list of the background bands. Fun but losing its sense of what it could be.