American prog-metallers Oceans of Slumber may be a name unknown to many. Often, music as textured and challenging as progressive metal requires a listener to allow themselves to be immersed into a world created by the artist and, as a result, is lost in the tide of more immediate and instantly-rewarding artists.
However, with their fourth and self-titled release, Oceans of Slumber have created an album of majesty and beauty that few artists in alternative music would be able to replicate. Brimming with atmosphere and quality, OOC’s upcoming effort is a mesmerising journey; combining doom-laden breakdowns with moments of intangible, ethereal melody.
Opening duo 'Soundtrack To My Last Day' and 'Pray For Fire' summarise this dichotomy – the opener sliding from a haunting acoustic melody to a deathly heavy section that at its conclusion, is a symmetry of light and dark that is simply awe-inspiring. The latter, opening with a melancholy clean/acoustic passage before a rich and angelic vocal line from Cammie Gilbert transports the listener to a different world before transitioning into a powerful chorus as the band seamlessly slide from moments of pop to traditional metal – all within minutes.
'A Return To Earth Below' once again combines sumptuous melody with dexterous and remarkable drum fills before culminating in a massive, powerful verse/chorus section that displays Gilbert’s remarkable vocal range. Despite the beauty and sheer size of the album, OOC still seek to remind us of the bands metal roots with 'The Adorned Fathomless Creation', interspersing blast-beats and huge black-metal style sections with more low-key transgressions as Gilbert trades lines with the demonic growls provided by back-up vocalists Semir Ozerkan and Alexander Lucian.
Landing with a more forlorn tone, 'Single To The Sea' opens with a gorgeous piano and clean guitar section and envelops into a sombre tone, where Cammie Gilbert’s voice floats atop the chords the band plays and truly soars before the melodic and immediately memorable final flourish comes to a close.
The band clearly thrive in the juxtaposition between crushing heaviness and truly atmospheric moments such as the vocal trade-offs on 'The Colours of Grace' and opening salvo of 'I Mourn These Yellowed Leaves'. However, once again, the darkness and rage of metal is at all times close by, offering a caveat to the album’s almost overwhelming melodic heart.
At the album’s conclusion, the band experiment with moments of metalcore technicality accompanying their now well-established sonic shifts of tempo and vibe. 'Total Failure Apparatus', 'The Red Flower' and the haunting cover of Type O Negative’s 'Wolf Moon', stand as a final display of Gilbert’s unmistakable charisma and personality driving the band forward.
In totality, Oceans Of Slumber’s self-titled record is a wonder and a remarkable achievement – a progressive masterpiece that is an impressive balance of both the darkest and brightest limits of the genre.