Review Summary: The stars are fading away
Back when The Ocean was actually a “collective,” they were a much more exciting band. Not to say Heliocentric
are bad albums, because they’re not, but when compared to their first three albums, they sound like a completely different band. Gone were their dense walls of sound, wide array of vocal styles, and overall it felt as if a certain weight to their sound was missing. The sound of early The Ocean albums was massive
. Not only massive in a balls-heavy musical sense, but the sheer density of the albums allowed you become completely immersed in their atmosphere. The most massive of them all and, in general, one of the dirtiest, sludgiest, and disgustingly heaviest progressive metal albums ever recorded is 2006's Aeolian
, The Ocean constantly barrages you with influences ranging from Meshuggah to Converge, with borderline Between the Buried and Me-esque spastic song structures, and even entering grind territory when the song calls for it. What’s more impressive is how none of the album’s 53 minutes are boring. Even the weakest song ‘Necrobabes.com’ has enough experimentation going on to make it worthwhile, and it also has some of the most interesting lyrics on the album:
You're my fetish
My favorite toy
Pierced with needles
I'm sure you'll enjoy
Gagged and hogtied
Spanked and caned
I'll always savour
your grace in chains
And they only get more disturbing from there. ‘Dead Serious & Highly Professional’ comes at a close second with its unsettling lyrics;
I'll fuck your dog
Do you still wanna get along with me?
I'd rape your daughter
On payment of a small fee
Yeah... no thanks.
As entertaining as the lyrics are, the true strength of The Ocean lies in the instrumental proficiency. Torge Ließmann is an absolute beast of a drummer, and musical extraordinaire/The Ocean-mastermind Robin Staps creates some of the most dynamic riffs the genre has to offer. Whereas metal is primarily all about the riffs, the vocals play just as big of a role in Aeolian
. This is more than likely due to the seven vocalists featured on the record. Yes, seven vocalists, including some big name artists like Nate Newton (Converge) and Sean Ingram (Coalesce). The Ocean’s full time vocalist, Meta, is a powerhouse of his own, having ear-piercing highs and lows guttural enough to make your balls ache.
As said before, Aeolian
is a heavy
record. The production is so thick you can slice it with an axe, and the riffs can be downright haunting at times; e.g. the doom passage in ‘The City of the Sea’. Plus, nothing says heavy like breakdowns, and the breakdowns on this record are unparalleled. ‘Une Saison en Enfer’, ‘The City in the Sea’, ‘Swoon’, and ‘One with the Ocean’ have utterly crushing breakdowns, and as far as hardcore music goes, they’re without a doubt among the heaviest breakdowns ever written. Mellow passages are few and far between, but when they do appear, such as the glorious intertwining of strings in ‘Inertia’, they’re done right – not too overdramatic and fitting perfectly within the gloomy mood of the album.
For any fan of hardcore, sludge, post, or doom metal, or generally anyone looking for an album dark enough to put you in a hypnotic, bloody trance, The Ocean’s second LP will not disappoint. Despite the band's original intention of having Fluxion
released as a double-album, Aeolian
needs to be listened as its own entity to be fully appreciated. It's actually a blessing in disguise that the albums weren't released together, as it makes this The Ocean's most focused and consistent record to date. When it comes to soul-crushingly huge albums, Aeolian
rests comfortably alongside Neurosis’ Through Silver in Blood
and Cult of Luna’s The Beyond
. Yes, it's that good.
“Can you still the stars through layers of grey
Or have the city lights taken their place?
The stars are fading away…”
The City in the Sea
Une Saison en Enfer
Queen of the Food-Chain