Review Summary: Our Oceans channels the creativity of its musical ancestors while pursuing a new direction with a balance between impressive instrumental work and beautiful soundscapes.
A traceable lineage exists in the realm of atmospheric, dreamy progressive metal with jazz fusion elements that began with the legendary band Cynic in the late 1980s. Despite only releasing three full-length albums since its inception, the members launched various side projects and collaborations over the years in the spirit of the original group’s unique artistry. Exivious, one of these main extensions, released two excellent instrumental albums around the turn of the decade. The frontman, guitarist Tymon Kruidenier, eventually decided to retire his previous band after launching the considerably mellower band, Our Oceans. The eponymous debut album considerably dials back the free improvisation, complex rhythms, and technical metal styles from Exivious and other groups in the sprawling Cynic family tree.
rewardingly hearkens to the celestial themes and song-based compilation Portal
, a one-album extension of Cynic. The opening two tracks and “Illuminate” feature aquatic and chiming guitars alongside soaring vocals and laid back tempos. Like Portal, this new project is driven just as much by singing as it is by the instrumental work, lending a traditional and accessible feel compared to the sometimes obtuse and self-indulgent qualities of typical prog metal. Each song takes its time and revels in lush musical textures, unfolding carefully and embodying songwriting experience that came from the past.
stands out mainly due to pursuing even more of a post-rock direction than any of the aforementioned bands. The longest track and album highlight “Turquoise” gradually builds to a dense, gorgeous soundscape more akin to Cocteau Twins, Explosions in the Sky, or Jakob as opposed to Cynic or Death. Atmosphere flourishes even more as well, this time feeling like the priority over the complex instrumental work and jazz fusion elements from before. The talent is still felt in numerous ways, but taken in a straightforward and ethereal place with hardly any metal elements to be found. While not a return to the heyday of Cynic nor a direct continuation of Exivious, Our Oceans rewardingly occupies a different artistic place while possessing even more of their spiritual themes and ambiance. This debut feels like part of the lineage it came from and traverses new musical directions with an identity of its own. While most all of the related bands appear to be over, Our Oceans is an exciting, promising project with a bright future ahead.