Oceans of Slumber – Oceans of Slumber
Oceans of Slumber are a singular phenomenon in the metal scene. Ever since vocalist Cammie Gilbert joined with the release of the “Blue” EP and the subsequent Century Media label debut “Winter” (read my review here), they set themselves apart from any other band in the circus, and not only through a unique blend of styles. Hailing from Houston, Texas, the band’s roots lie in extreme territories that stand equally besides doom, gothic, heavy, progressive and cinematic metal influences, garnished with a good portion of classic rock and dark singer/songwriter gloom. On this canvas, they build a vast tapestry of dark emotions.
Just about two years have passed since their last masterpiece, 2018’s “The Banished Heart” (read my review here). Right after the release, the band kind of fell apart, and out of the ashes, the core duo of Cammie and drummer Dobber Beverly built it up again and with this new line-up to distil the essence of “Oceans of Slumber” into this fittingly self-titled album.
The first riff of the aptly titled opener ‘Soundtrack to My Last Day’ already catapults us back into that unique Oceans of Slumber feeling that will keep us company for the next 70 minutes. A blueprint of an Oceans of Slumber song if there ever was one, encompassing all their facets in its 7 and a half minutes playing time. The majestic melodies, the blast-beats, mournful acoustic guitars, harsh male vocals by one of the new guys – it’s all there and assembled to perfection.
Oceans of Slumber – Pray for Fire (click here if the video doesn’t play)
Clocking in at almost the same length, ‘Pray for Fire’ is an entirely different beast altogether though with a chilling acoustic build-up, taking up speed about half-way through and a razor sharp guitar solo leading into a gargantuan breakdown of sorts. The last two minutes see Cammie resort to a haunting spoken word storytelling over Dobber’s signature double bass. An unexpectedly harrowing experience in the best of ways.
Oceans of Slumber – A Return to the Earth Below (click here if the video doesn’t play)
First single ‘A Return to the Earth Below’ made me fear that the harsh vocals were gone for good upon its release at the beginning of June, but fret not, they do appear in other places of the album in various forms. As a standalone single, the majestic ending of the song seems to come to an abrupt halt of sorts, but in the context of the album the atmospheric interlude ‘Imperfect Divinity’ will catch you and lead you into the morphed intro craziness of the second single ‘The Adorned Fathomless Creation’, a song that is flexing with fast riffs and wears the classic death metal influences on its sleeve at times.
Oceans of Slumber – The Adorned Fathomless Creation (click here if the video doesn’t play)
Singles number three and four, namely ‘To the Sea (A Tolling of the Bells)’ and ‘Colors of Grace’ rely heavier on supreme melodic content, with Antimatter’s Mick Moss taking up the duet torch from Evergrey’s Tom S. Englund (who guested on “The Banished Heart”) in the latter and giving him a proper run for his money. Finding a vocalist who matches Cammie’s passionate performance is no easy feat, but just like with the new line-up, they found just the right guy for the job.
Oceans of Slumber – To the Sea (A Tolling of the Bells) (click here if the video doesn’t play)
‘I Mourn These Yellowed Leaves’ and ‘The Red Flower’ rival each other for the most monumental and bombastic song on the album. While in between, the classic Dobber piano interlude gets an enhancement with a delicate string arrangement in ‘September’ and ‘Total Failure Apparatus’ introduces the vocal technique of the ‘gurgle’, as Dobber explained in Episode 072 of our Progcast. A cover of Type o Negative’s ‘Wolf Moon’ rounds up the album in style. And as with their two previous full-length releases, I am left craving for more even though the emotional depth is so demanding, exhausting at times. But it is addictive as it is empowering at the very same time.
Oceans of Slumber – The Colors of Grace (click here if the video doesn’t play)
It is apparent that the six Texans still don’t shy away from letting the contrasts of a melodramatic bombast clash with furious death metal, they don’t shy away from the slowest of doom tempos, neither are they holding back their rawest emotions. Oceans of Slumber invite us again into the deepest part of their (and our) souls – to draw strength and confidence from darkness.
- The Soundtrack To My Last Day
- Pray For Fire
- A Return To The Earth Below
- Imperfect Divinity
- The Adorned Fathomless Creation
- To The Sea (A Tolling Of The Bells)
- The Colors of Grace
- I Mourn These Yellow Leaves
- September (Momentaria)
- Total Failure Apparatus
- The Red Flower
- Wolf Moon