Review Summary: Oceans Of Sadness get darker, more serious and introduce a whole load of epic into their sound. It's almost impossible to describe, but it's bloody brilliant.
Right, I like to go into everything with a cynical attitude. Call me a b
astard or whatever, I don’t care, but as far as I see it, if you think it’s going to be crap, you can’t lose. Either it ends up being unsurprisingly bad or it actually ends up being good and surprising you. Plus it makes you automatically superior to all the hype whores who will jump on any bandwagon (which admittedly is about as big an achievement as remembering not to pick up the soap in prison…) Now, The Arrogance Of Ignorance was different for me. Oceans Of Sadness’s previous album, Mirror Palace, was pretty damn awesome. Sure, it had it’s problems (lack of structure in places, lost steam in places) but all in all it was one of those albums that was just all in all fun
; so to be honest, when TAOI came about I had reasonably high expectations, but it did something I wasn’t quite expecting; it exceeded them.
Oceans Of Sadness’s (from now on to be shortened to Oceans') achievement on this album is not limited to any one thing, they’ve streamlined, improved and pushed their sound to the limits here. The band have gotten more serious on The Arrogance Of Ignorance (though they still retain some of the almost circus-like antics on Mirror Palace) and as a result the band have managed to make the album epic on a whole new scale, with songs like “Some Things Seem So Easy” and “In The End” building to breathtaking climaxes which the band have never quite managed to pull off so brilliantly before. This is the product of a band who know what they are doing and who have absolutely perfected their sound to the last tiny detail, and now they have this perfected they can focus on making every second an absolute joy for the listener.
With groovy riffs, eccentric keyboards and erratic vocals Oceans’ sound can be hard to describe. The band themselves don’t like to be labelled in any one category, and I’m not going to try. Imagine ARCTURUS meets OPETH with influences from almost everything else thrown in for good measure; previously, the band could sometimes overdo it, and the result would be songs that sometimes sounded over the top and hard to follow. They’ve successfully solved this though on TAOI, and now every song makes sense in it’s own way, of course the band haven’t toned down some of their more mental moments too much (“The Weakest Link” is a classic OOS song, featuring almost every aspect of their sound and more) but they’ve streamlined it and improved it to the point where you never get lost in the album. This was a necessary improvement from Mirror Palace, and when you add Tijs Vanneste’s improved and even more varied vocals to the mix the band comes off sounding more focused and professional than ever before.
Tijs’ vocals are more impressive than ever before, though his clean vocals are a perfect example of ‘love or hate’ (I’ve seen them be adored and abhorred on this very site!) his extreme vocals have improved from Mirror Palace, with black metal shrieks even finding their way into the album occasionally and low, booming growls taking the forefront in a lot of songs. On the subject of vocals, you also get Annlouice Loegdlund of Diablo Swing Orchestra fame showing off her vocals on the wonderful “Subconscious”; and also Johan Liiva lending his intense voice to a few magical moments on “In The End” (one of the most intense tracks Oceans’ have ever recorded), overall, Oceans’ have gone all out here, Tijs is unrestrained, guest vocalists are introduced and overall it is just a very pleasing listen vocal wise.
Despite the reasonably long time (just over fifty minutes) The Arrogance Of Ignorance never drags, there are enough moments of pure brilliance on the album to warrant listening to it all the way through. For people who heard Mirror Palace, their might be a few surprises here for you. “In The End”, for example, features one of the most aggressive and intense openings Oceans’ have ever written, and I’m not just talking about the guest vocalist; the whole atmosphere of that song is venomous. On the other end of the spectrum is “From Then On”, a wonderfully emotional ballad with some amazing vocal work from Tijs and some beautiful keyboard melodies towards the end. Oceans’ haven’t rested on their laurels with TAOI, they’ve tried new things (the black metal parts that pop up occasionally add a lot of spice and venom to the sound) and pulled them off effortlessly; while there are still a few songs that could’ve fitted in without a doubt on Mirror Palace, on the whole the album is a lot more dark, serious and epic (just wait until you hear the end of “Failure”, one of the most amazing moments in music I’ve heard this year) than it’s predecessor.
The Arrogance Of Ignorance scores high on all levels on an almost impossible level. It successfully streamlines Oceans’ sound while adding new things to it, it manages to be darker and more epic while still keeping the more fun elements from previous albums and they’ve managed to stay completely fresh while still being the same band; basically, they’re firing on all cylinders now, and you better hop on board or be blown out of the way.