Review of Oceansize's Everyone Into Position.
Oceansize is a british unit made out of 5 musicians :
Mike Vennart - Vocals, Guitar
Gambler - Guitar
Steve Durose - Guitar, Vocals
Steve Hodson - Bass
Mark Heron - Drums
Quick listen : www.myspace.com/oceansizeuk
Oceansize started their activity in 2003, with in my opinion one of the best debut album of all time: Effloresce. It took me a while to admit that Effloresce was a debut album of an unkown band with unkown musicians, since the sound quality and the musicianship was already outstanding there.
Their second album, Everyone Into Position came out almost exactly a year ago. It is their second and latest album.
Now you might be asking for some comparaisons in order to get into this band which should be unkown for most. I usualy like comparaisons because there is so much bands to listen to that you need some specifications to know if weither or not you're going to dig this one. Let me tell you, "or not" would be the wrong choice to make here.
Oceansize don't sound close to anything existing, but it does remind me at times of : Mogwai, Tool, Pink Floyd, Dredg, Porcupine tree.
Their genre mainly goes from post rock to space rock to progressive rock to metal prog to outstanding beautiful lyrical epic timeless music.
Now I am going to review this album while listening to it in order to naturaly render the feelings i get as much as possible.
The first thing you may have noticed in the line up mentioned above is that there are 3 guitars used. You might think this is only used for noise making but I actualy think you will find here some of the best guitar usage ever. You should listen to it fully concentrated and if possible with headphones, you will see how the 3 guitars are able to play 3 surrounding different melodies amazingly effectively.
So I introduced the guitar work here, but don't think i made the way around. The drummer is also outstanding and plays some great evolutive drum lines. This is shown right away as you start the album with the opening track "The Charm Offensive". The tribal drumming brings you right away in the mood. Yeah, you're being offensively charmed. Mike Vennart enters with a complaining style voice which leads you at 1:33 to a powerful bridge then fluidingly to something we could call a chorus. The song builds up to 4:43 where a nice instrumental transition takes place taking you to the final explosion at 5:30. I love the way Oceansize can get epicaly powerful while keeping high-tone guitar melodies on top. Song ends at 7 mins after an effective demonstration of Oceansize's talent.
You will notice the band is not making basic structured music. Their songs are fully developing themselves all the way without ever repeating. So this is their progressive side, but dont think it gets too much to swallow because everything is just amazingly fluid here, they play with various melodies, genres and degrees of power without you noticing the transfers. Their instruments and structures are just melting as one whole unit.
Second track, "Heaven Alive", was released as a single. It starts with some celtic kind of vocals stopped by a massive drum line and some strong guitar riffs soon joined by a repetitive yet really good bass line . Vocals come in at 0:50 and are very atmospherique. They reach a little more powerful bridge at 1:35 and main chorus blasts you at 2:17 with a massive wall of sound, making me feel like some space army are launching their massive assault. I think Mike Vennart's vocals are having a huge impact on the quality of the music in Oceansize. His light but at times strong vocals are perfectly fitting the powerful and melodical instrumentation.
Oceansize are never getting annoying. I have been owning this record for almost a year now, and have been listening to some tracks almost everyday seriously. The point is that they are still able to surprise you even after a thousand listens.
In the two first tracks, Oceansize showed us their progressive atmosherique skills now they will give us a metal lesson with "A homage to a shame". I am not that much into metal but whatever Oceansize touches its golden. A violent introduction goes from 1st second to 8th, then little instrumental bridge leads you to the arranged-voice singing part. Sometimes, Mike Vennart's vocals are just used as an additional instrument where you can barely hear the lyrics, and this usualy is very well done, like in the chorus here. The song goes on to a third world war chaotic end with mike screaming and some really nice guitar melodies, then the song stops net.
Next song, "Meredith", is here to make you calm down a little after the blasting storm you just went through. This song is the second shortest on the album with 5:26, yet a highlight. Well, I feel frustrated using this term since the whole album has been a highlight in my life. But it is a really good track taking you on a dark journey somewhere deep underground. Sometimes Oceansize can make you reach the top of the sky just like they can bring you in the darkest places of earth. The vocals are flying above you while guitars are playing some joyful melodies. The pleasant feeling Mike gives with his light vocals makes you think he could say some lovely lyrics but he just goes "oh how id cut you to the bone...". You will probably have to check most lyrics out on the internet since they usualy are very hard to hear. I love the last 30 seconds on this track and even more the very last second.
Now it is time for one of my top 10 tracks ever. Yeah and dont think i only know 10. I am spending most of my free time searching for the finest music and I think this is a perfect muse.
"Music For A Nurse" starts with a light guitar melody which takes you right away on a flying trip. The light drumming are really well placed here and the lyrics coming in at 2:15 are very pleasant. They get kinda mind torturing until 3:30 when a light wall of sound comes which makes you feel like someone lost opened a door and got freed on some giant landscape. The song goes instrumental from 5 mins til the end at 8 mins, with voice being used as an instrument. Makes you feel like the person is just going to spend the rest of his life in that place he found. This track is really astonishing and needs to be heard by everyone.
(This song has surprisingly been used in a nice french commercial that you might check out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZarQnz9XI8)
Next track, "New Pin" starts with some complex electronic loops. The shortest song on the album has been realeased as a single although I dont think its a highlight on it. It is actualy my less adored, but still great. The electronic effect goes all the way through and is being covered by a good rock track, ending with some more electronic effects.
"No tomorrow", the 7th track on the album is my second less adored track although being really good. The track builds up well with an excellent drum line til 1:34 where an epic explosion occurs. The song goes on and I love the transition happening at 5:05. The rockish tune develops to a more and more aggressive sounding to finish as a powerful metal track. If you listen to the very beginning and very ending of this track, you may appreciate the variety of genres Oceansize plays with.
"Mine Host" is a four minute ambient transition track. Some nice orgue soundings are used here.
This transition takes you to the two last opera-esque culminating tracks of the album.
"You cant keep a bad man down" is absolutely beautiful with a heavy yet slow-paced genre. The lyrics are building up effectively and are making me feel like someone giving a lesson to human kind. Ah that might sound weird but still. After having conquered the world, the song stops at 4:15 to get you to some an end-of-the world place until the end of the track. I feel like human kind is shutting down there and next track would be what happens after its disparition.
"Ornament/the last wrongs" is the best album closer ever to me. It sounds like human kind finaly finding peace and looking back to all the mistakes we've made. It starts kinda like Music for a nurse with a very light guitar melody and some ambient soundings until 2:45 where you get surprisingly blasted by a masterful riff and 4 electronic keyboard notes, with almighty vocals joining and being used as an instrument. At 3:28 everything drops just to blast you again some moments later. at 5:00 a bridge is made and vocals are coming in with Gambler adding to Mike's vocals to make an all-time light vocal unit. This builds up to 6:20 where the final epicness apogee occurs while fading away leaving you speachless as the song slowly drops to its 9:21 minute end.
At this point, if you listened to the whole album with concentration, you should wonder what the hell happened to you during the last hour. The album is like a time machine that takes you through periods and dimensions and when you get back from there, you won't even be willing to repush the "play" button since some meditation will be required on what you just heard.
The music is extremely consistent here and it will probably take you a couple of listens to fully understand and absorb the large quantity of musicness offered. But i can assure you it is worth giving some time to an album simply offering you more than just music. With two near-to-perfection albums realeased in two years, Oceansize are standing as one of the most promising hopes for music today.
Here is an overall track rating list:
01. The Charm offensive: 4.5/5
02. Heaven alive: 4.5/5
03. A Homage to a shame: 4.5/5
04. Meredith: 4.5/5
05. Music for a nurse: 5.5/5
06. New pin: 3.5/5
07. No tomorrow: 4/5
08. Mine host: 3.5/5
09. You can't keep a bad man down: 4.5/5
10. Ornament / The Last wrongs: 5.5/5
P.S.: - This is my first review ever. I am not a native english speaker so please feel free to correct me.
I sometimes lack of describing vocabulary which is handicaping to review music. But i wanted to do this here on sputnik.