Review Summary: If Precambrian was Master of Puppets, Heliocentric is The Black Album.
The Ocean is a unique band from Germany. Led by Robin Staps, the band produced two great records (Fluxion
) before releasing Precambrian
, arguably one of the best metal albums of the last decade. The album was based on the development of the Earth and is divided between the heavy-as-hell metalcore of Hadean/Archaean and the epic, progressive post-metal of Proterozoic, which still retained some of the heaviest drop-A riffs mixed in with quieter sections, often mixed with an orchestra.
is the follow-up to, and will continue to be compared to, the Proterozoic side of Precambrian
. The band again set up a concept, this time a history of the faults of religion and creationism against the rise of science and evolution. A pretty cool concept, but the music itself simply does not meet up. While Heliocentric
has its moments, the earthquake-worthy riffs are mostly gone and the expansive orchestra-backed post-rock parts have been replaced with more jazzy space-rock. Change can be appreciated, but the music seems uninspired and even boring throughout the hour-long album.
The biggest change is the switch in vocal duties. Precambrian
highlighted one vocalist with a deep-growl, but also included guest vocalists who showed nearly every possibility of the male voice (sorry, no power metal falsetto), including screaming and singing combined. Heliocentric
has an entirely new vocalist and gone is the variation. The man, Loïc Rossetti, has a great scream, but perhaps only five percent of the album shows that. Instead, he uses his singing (which does sound like a deeper Dustin Kenstrue from Thrice) that remains at an almost monotone throughout. The biggest problem with this is that the vocals are mixed so high that it distracts from the music behind, in the same way Lars Ulrich distracts from everything else in Death Magnetic
This album does have its positives. While the music is not as dramatic as the band's previous works, it is still miles ahead of the average metal band. Guitars sometimes sparkle in an uplifting way, while they also give headbanging-worthy climaxes. Even the piano is well done when it appears. These moments are short-lived, however. The vocalist is rather talented, even if he does not appear to have very much of a range. His screams and roars are certainly massive, giving hopes for Anthropocentric
(the heavier sister to this album), the band's next release in 2010.
is a good album, even if it is often boring. The music has highpoints and the singing is not horrible. The album has its faults, but it only has one curse: It came after a masterpiece.