Review Summary: Depths 2.0
You know that saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover?” Well Oceano’s sophomore effort, Contagion
seems to be the exception to the rule. Amidst the gaudy eighties era artwork, and grotesquely deformed humanoid, the cover of Contagion
reads as a warning label of sorts, with its sharply defined colors, and perturbing themes. And unless this is your shtick, I suggest you heed that warning.
is the follow up to Oceano’s surprise hit, Depths
. The album made big waves in the deathcore scene last year, catapulting the band to fame, and garnering them a significant fan base. Having only been formed in 2006, the young band has seen a surprising amount of lineup changes, with 2010 seeing two members leave the group, and two enter. With the band picking up steam and welcoming some new members to the fold, fans are left to wonder how this will all come together. Will they keep on truckin’ on their riff roller coaster? Or shall they learn a few new tricks, which could ultimately lead to uncertainty?
Unfortunately, nothing has changed. To call Contagion
a progression is like calling a D- a passing grade. Well, yeah, they sort of
have grown, and yeah, they have kind of
added a few new things to the mix, but ultimately Contagion
is Depths 2.0
. And honestly, last year’s Depths
was a poor effort, so it isn’t much of a stretch to figure the same for Contagion.
And what a poor effort it truly is. Yet an all too familiar formula isn’t Oceano’s only misstep on Contagion.
The band has never been considered musically creative, not in the least, so obviously nothing has changed in that respect. It’s heavy, that’s for sure, but it absolutely brings nothing new in the way of intrigue or freshness. Contagion
, in all its ear-splitting fury, is rather blassé. For being so clamorous and raucous, the album is absolutely harmless, and completely unable to evoke any emotion what so ever. It’s a hollow shell of an album, filled with mindless riffs and indecipherable guttural screams, lacking character and personality all together.
No one brings anything interesting to the table, not the guitarist, not the drummer, and certainly not the vocalist. Vocals being almost laughable at times, as the first thirty seconds of “Weaponized” display an incredibly embarrassing attempt at vocal variety. I mean, it’s impressive at how low he truly can go, but the tone is grating, and incredibly shallow. He’s simply trying too hard, his voice strains, and the quality is completely lost because of it. While it may have caused a loss in overall “brutality,” cleaning up the vocals a bit would have really helped the sound. Yet “brutality” is exactly what Oceano are playing up on with Contagion
, so much that the album suffers immensely because of it. Instead of adding any kind arresting instrumentals, Oceano are content on riffing, and imagine riffing spelled out in mammoth letters, because Contagion features a disgusting amount of them. The stereotypical drum work is featured along side some overproduced bass. It’s predictable and contrived to the point of ad nauseam.
The song selection is just as lackluster as the rest of the album. Its homogeneous to say the least, as every song bleeds into one another, making for a messy and disorganized glut of songs thrown onto a disc. There are a few guest vocalists on the record, Alexander Erian and Steve Marois of now defunct Despised Icon, and Nick Arthur of Molotov Solution. While they kind of
add a hint of variety to the mix, it truly isn’t enough add a spark of intrigue to the rather irksome affair. The songs bore to tears because the band bores to tears. It’s as simple as that. Contagion
drags because it lacks life, creativity, and energy, and this is felt throughout the album’s entirety.
Yet Oceano’s sophomore effort is not without its charms. It’s heavy, and absurdly brutal, but in the end, it is what it is. While the novelty wears thin almost immediately, for many, Oceano represent a completely veracious and wholly wonderful way of listening to music. And really, it’s hard to find fault in that respect, as Oceano play to their niche audience perfectly. Unfortunately, this sentiment will resonate with vary few, as the lackluster songwriting, and shockingly poor performances will prevail. Underneath the heavy veneer, Contagion
is messy, disorganized, and completely uninteresting, and a poor effort all around.