Review Summary: Oceano progress while maintaining their brutality, and create a listenable record without too much distinction between tracks.
I needed to brush up on my African American influence in modern music for a school project, so I figured I'd do it on Oceano
(nobody said it had to be a positive
No, but really. Contagion
is a solid sophomore release for the band, showing logical (if somewhat limited) progression both structurally and lyrically. Rather than filling in the blanks of their songs with the traditional run-of-the-mill 24/7 breakdowns, Oceano includes much less - and less is definitely more here. Their style with this record wouldn't have worked nearly as well with a longer running time, as the admittedly repetitive monotone chugs and riffing doesn't boost the album too far above the rest of deathcore.
Between somewhat-strained highs and enjoyably-brutal lows, the record dishes out its due as far as vocals go. Being the most distinctive part of the band, Oceano's vocals are very important and they've done a great job at giving them the attention it needs. This isn't much of an excuse for the lack of production value given to the guitars. The only time the sound seems to differ is when the distortion is either at max or at zero, - the few solos that are included are too short to get a true feel for the guitarist's skill - and the drums just aren't distinctive enough to really comment about them.
Speaking of distinction, the album as a whole kind of sinks into itself. With the exception of the first track, "Precursor to Enslavement", and album highlight "Weaponized", each track runs this awkward line between standing out from the album's rest and blending in, which puts me off and keeps me listening strictly to the highlights. I'll be honest: you will probably get a headache if you give this a solid listen, which is never a good sign. It calms down during "The Contaminated," which features a few surprisingly dynamic guitar pieces, which is refreshing. The issue with including them this late into the album is that most would-be listeners have probably turned it off long before the halfway point. More dynamics appear in the instrumental, "Exist in Confinement", which serves to relieve us even further and provide much-needed atmosphere and emotion to the album. Aside from these tracks and the other two I've mentioned before, there really isn't much to separate each track from the next one, or the one before it.
I only give this a 2.5/5 (as opposed to a flat 2) because, for some unfathomable reason, I can't stop myself from liking this album. It has its high points (see recommended tracks) and it has its mediocre points (everything else), but it IS
. It's refreshing in a genre of backwards and unimaginative bands, and it's a solid successor to Depths
, their 2009 debut. I hope their next release is more dynamic than this, as Oceano feels overtly brutal as it stands now, and sheer brutality can only go so far in progression of music.Â*
1.) "Precursor to Enslavement"
5.) "The Contaminated"
6.) "Exist in Confinement"
10.) "Remnants Aflame"