Album: Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic
Artist: The Ocean
Label: Metal Blade
Release Date: November 2nd, 2018
Description: The Ocean, a progressive metal band originally from Germany, released their 8th album two weeks ago: Phanerozoic I: Palaezoic. The sound is like if Neurosis discovered Kayo Dot – it fuses mid 90s sludge metal with progressive metal and neoclassical metal aspirations. Many tracks here are entirely instrumental which is for the better because that is where The Ocean shines. Each piece has a wide breath of instruments used which mostly comes from the excellent synthesizers, piano, cello, and guitar effects. Lead singer Loïc Rossetti has two distinct modes on this album, typical guttural singing for metal and non-aggressive, melodic singing (like something from an emo album). The latter is clearly his weak point, but most of the time the music is good enough for the vocals to not be a detriment.
The first track is a two-minute intro that leads into the best track “Cambrian II” which is entirely instrumental. This is probably one of the best songs of the year that I’ve heard so far. It is a near 8-minute foray into classical metal that would make Toby Driver and even Yes proud. The next track is another instrumental, “Ordovicium” which evokes Dream Theater at their heaviest. “Silirian” is the first track to feature vocals which, again, are best when they are harsh. This is probably the most diverse song where they evoke mid-period Between the Buried and Me at the loud parts and Agalloch at the quiet parts. “Devonian” is where they sound most like Neurosis and paves the way for the short instrumental piece “The Carboniferous Rainforest Collapse”. That leaves the ending track, “Permian”, which is epic but their least original moment. The album concludes into cacophonic fuzz.
Phanerozoic I: Palaezoic is dynamic and, while it has a multitude of influences, it never outright copies them. The production is very modern, but the music is placeable around the mid-2000s. Still, this ranks among their best album along with 2007’s Precambrian and among the best of this year.
Final score: 7/10
Sounds Like: Kayo Dot, Between the Buried and Me, Neurosis
Recommended tracks for radio play: Cambrian II
Reviewer: Bryan Burnett
Review Date: November 14th, 2018