Honestly, there isn’t much to say about Oceano’s 2015 album, Ascendants
, that hasn’t already been said about countless deathcore and metalcore albums in this vein. I’ve only just recently acquainted myself with this band, having also listened to their 2013 effort, Incisions
. Unfortunately, I found that album to be riddled with mixing issues, and it also managed to touch upon just about every deathcore cliché in the playbook. Fortunately, there were very brief flashes of creative song writing peppered throughout its runtime, which at least encouraged me to hear it through to the end.
A couple years later, and Oceano has graced us with another release. The mix is a giant step forward this time around, the guitars are much beefier, and the overall performances are much clearer. This allows for the occasional melodic overlays (see “Dawn of Descent”) to interweave with the rest of the music optimally. There also seems to be a newfound energy on this album. Previously, I found Incisions
felt a little tired, a little rushed, and maybe even a little forced sometimes. It was almost as if the band was indifferent during recording and didn’t put much effort into their compositions. What we have here is a very energetic deathcore album that grabs your attention with a sense of urgency in ways that their previous record couldn’t.
Unfortunately, previous issues haven’t completely dissipated here. The vocals are definitely competent, but there are way too many low growls and squeals that are performed with diminishing returns as Ascendants
plays out. Also, a lot of very by-the-numbers deathcore sections appear one after another throughout its runtime. Without paying attention to your music player, it’s easy to forget if a different song has started upon the first few listens. None of the cuts here are offensively bad, but bland pieces like “The World Engine” with the generic slam riffs don’t help much. They decide to musically switch it up occasionally, and when they do, it’s hit or miss. One exception to the status quo, “Dawn of Descent”, has an eerie clean riff which adds a nice flair to the song. While being pleasing to hear, it only made me wish for more experimentation on the album.
On a positive note, the drumming is definitely the highlight of the album, with a lot of graceful transitions from fast blast beats to double kick runs that keep the energy of the album high. The commanding percussive performance heard here is what makes the faster sections of the album some of its best. There are some decent riffs to be heard, like the technical parts in “Transient Gateways”, and the sheer heaviness of “The Dulce Incident”, but most of the time it just seems like the bare minimum is played to keep the songs afloat.
I really wanted to like this album, I could tell from the performance that the band had a lot of fun recording this, and they’re passionate about the material. There is definitely some great moments, and I can see big fans of this band and the genre eating this album up. The improvement here is admirable, but a lack of overwhelming negative elements doesn’t excuse some of the stale writing here. However, if this upward trend continues, I’ll be waiting for their next release with a sense of curiosity and just a pinch of excitement.