The Ocean
Heliocentric


2.0
poor

Review

by bodiesinflight57 USER (14 Reviews)
April 9th, 2010 | 54 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The first major disappointment of 2010...and it's a big disappointment.

The Ocean is not a band to do things by halves. Their last album, 2007’s ‘Precambrian’ was a sprawling double album that conceptually centred on the early formation of the Earth. That album featured over 30 contributors that all came together to create one especially raw and heavy disc to play companion to another more symphonic and electronically diverse disc. This record is also a companion disc of sorts, partnered with ‘Anthropocentric’, due to be released later this year. Lyrically the songs focus this time on the heliocentric world view (i.e. that the earth revolves around the sun, which is the stationary centre of the universe) and thereby is partly a critique of Christianity. So, in the sense of weighty subject matter and ambitious scale, some things have stayed the same in The Ocean.

One major thing has changed however and is soon very much apparent; vocalist Loïc Rossetti has joined the band on a permanent basis. Whereas previous records featured vocal contributions from a wide variety of singers, including notable figures such as Eric Kalsbeek (ex-Textures) and Caleb Scofield (Cave In), this album has Rossetti’s (mostly clean) voice upon it all the way through. Sadly this new consistency is not a good thing as Rossetti is surely the blandest vocalist to appear on record with the band. Indeed on some occasions, such as the generally woeful ‘Ptolemy Was Wrong’, his vocals are not just bland but bordering on embarrassing. On ‘Catharsis of a Heretic’ meanwhile he sounds like he’s being put through a strainer of some description. The growl esque vocals present are not that bad but they are rarely brought out; it is clean vocals that are at the forefront here. Surely though, for a band like The Ocean, it is not vocals but the textures of the sound that are most important. However on this album they appear to have gone missing.

Indeed this is an album by a band that appears to have gone backwards. Where ‘Precambrian’ was a sonic delight, ‘Heliocentric’ is a sonic bore. There’s very little texture of any note on this record, save the occasionally intriguing addition of some mundane brass or strings to the plodding guitars and dull piano. The intent was surely to produce an epic sound but everything just comes across as being watered down to the point where there is very little present to actually listen attentively anymore. Songs tend to go straight in one ear and hurriedly find their way out the other. It’s not only a shame in comparison to previous releases but also because this isn’t an album that’s bad from the off. The first track proper, ‘Firmament’, is easily the strongest on the record with some interesting instrumental sections during its latter half and vocals that are, if not impressive, actually fairly good. The closing duo of ‘The Origin of Species’ and ‘The Origin of God’ meanwhile provides a long overdue dose of real heaviness to the album. Mostly though the music is submerged in mediocrity; sometimes descending in quality rapidly halfway through a song. ‘The First Commandment of the Luminaries’, for example, is going quite well until the band decide it is a good idea to throw in a short cabaret like piano section, totally disrupts the darkening mood the song has started to build up.

Piano makes up a lot of the instrumentation on this album and is often the focal point around which songs are built. Take the aforementioned ‘Ptolemy Was Wrong’ for example. For a band as clever in building up texture and atmosphere as The Ocean, it is simply unforgivable to create a song as devoid in atmosphere as this. The piano sounds like it has come straight out of an early 20th century romance film and over the top of this Rossetti’s wailing vocals make the whole thing sound like a bad Michael Bublė ballad. The lyrics are mostly atrocious as well. Rossetti starts off ‘Ptolemy Was Wrong’ wallowing in a bath of self-pity because he “can’t tell you what (he’s) seen” before proceeding to move on and focus, as you do, on Venus and the movements of the planets for a bit. ‘Swallowed by the Earth’, incidentally one of the better tracks present here, kicks off with the lyrical own goal “Tonight the earth opened up / and swallowed quite a lot”. This may be a concept album, thus perhaps excusing the occasional lyrical hiccup in order to get the concept across, but there is no excuse for them neither to pop up so frequently nor to overshadow the music. Said music should be led by dynamic and powerful guitar lines but most of the time guitarists Jona Nido and Robin Staps seem so devoid of riff ideas that the guitars spend a lot of their time on simple chord progressions or tedious palm muting. The bass meanwhile is mostly inaudible underneath the eternally dominant keys. The drumming by Luc Hess is nothing special but the lack of interest stirred by the other instruments means he manages to come out of this record as the most consistently impressive member of the group.

Lyrically, vocally and instrumentally this is nothing but a dull record with only a couple of standout tracks really worth listening to. Far from being the sonic masterpiece that the band could perhaps have stretched to after the excellent ‘Precambrian’ this is a large backward step and the first major disappointment of 2010. Hopefully follow up ‘Anthropocentric’ will be more impressive when it arrives later in the year. It needs to be in order to make up the damage that this album has done to the reputation of The Ocean.



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user ratings (744)
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
Xenophanes EMERITUS (3)
Whereas "Precambrian" was like a fierce hurricane, "Heliocentric" is the harmless breeze that follow...

kingsoby1 EMERITUS (3.5)
An overall interesting experiment that sorely lacks in consistency and creative focus....

FatheringhamDrive (3.5)
Ambitious concept, a bit middling on the vocal delivery...

eternium (3)
If Precambrian was Master of Puppets, Heliocentric is The Black Album....



Comments:Add a Comment 
bodiesinflight57
April 9th 2010


870 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Streaming here: http://www.metalsucks.net/2010/04/08/the-oceans-heliocentric-exclusive-full-album-stream/



Although I daresay if you're interested in the band and a Sputnik user you may have noticed the debate about it by now anyway!

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
April 9th 2010


32288 Comments


Album's okay

bloc
April 9th 2010


70400 Comments


Wow is it really this bad? I will still look into it.

Inveigh
April 9th 2010


26882 Comments


I've never listened to this band at all. post-metal?

bodiesinflight57
April 9th 2010


870 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

If you had to give them a category it probably would be post-metal yeah but this album isn't really a post-metal album imo.



But yeah, I was really disappointed by this as you can no doubt tell.

Inveigh
April 9th 2010


26882 Comments


Sounds like Precambrian is the place to start with these guys

Burn2Burn
April 9th 2010


2374 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Pos'd. Seriously one of the biggest disappointments in music I have ever had. I honestly didn't believe they could top Precambrian, and I was fine with that; this album, however, is fucking shit.

HenchmanOfSanta
April 9th 2010


1994 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Never listened to this band before, but I thought this was pretty good. The ballads are stupid though.

Ulsufyring
April 9th 2010


1748 Comments


henchman displays choice ignorance once again

Powerban
April 9th 2010


2384 Comments


I will never rate this. I listened to the stream like 4 times through and I have no idea how the fuck this is even 1/100th of the band that made Precambrian.

GO BACK TO BEING A COLLECTIVE BECAUSE YOU OBVIOUSLY SUCK BEING A FUCKING NORMAL BAND.

scissorlocked
April 9th 2010


3538 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ow....i dont wanna hear all these...is it really that bad???Precambrian was a wonderful record.....

Wizard
April 9th 2010


20530 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

The tenth major disappointment of 2010...and it's a big disappointment.



*Fixed



I completely agree with the review except for this:



this is nothing but a dull record with only a couple of standout tracks really worth listening to.



There is not one redeemable quality on this piece of shit.





bodiesinflight57
April 9th 2010


870 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Have been waiting for that ^

NOTINTHEFACE
April 9th 2010


2142 Comments


This is really too bad. I was just starting to really get into precambrian, and now this. Ah, well. I was just about to move on to checking out Rosetta anyways. Excellent review. You convinced me to the point that I really don't even feel like giving this a shot anymore.

"The intent was surely to produce an epic sound but everything just comes across as being watered down to the point where there is very little present to actually listen attentively anymore."

^This is exactly what I was afraid of, and exactly what I got from several listens of "Swallowed by the Earth".

And I think it's lol how people think that Christians believe the sun is the center of the universe.

AlexTM510
April 9th 2010


1471 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

...i guess im going to have to attempt an opposing review hah



good review though!

LG
April 9th 2010


3050 Comments


Nowhere near Precambrian epicness, but it definitely has a few killer tracks.

FadeToBlack
April 9th 2010


11043 Comments


And I think it's lol how people think that Christians believe the sun is the center of the universe.
is missing the point

bodiesinflight57
April 9th 2010


870 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

@ AlexTM510:

I'm REALLY looking forward to reading that!



NOTINTHEFACE
April 9th 2010


2142 Comments


@FadeToBlack

I understand how that isn't the point of the album. I'm referring to the reviewer's first paragraph, where he references it.

jingledeath
April 9th 2010


7100 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Album sucks hard and the vocals are hella annoying.



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