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Album Review : The Ocean – Phanerozoic

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Best to start this album review by saying that I would be typing out that album title more that once in the review so the new album by The Ocean has been shortened from Phanerozoic I Palaeozoic to PIP. Probably best for everyone’s sanity.

The Ocean or The Ocean collective are a sort of post metal, sort of progressive metal group that is definitely a band but better described as a collective. If you take the fluctuation of members, the recording of albums and EPs and stage performances we could list over eighty names. However, that sound remains. It’s a soundscape that punctuates the pictures that it creates in your mind. This is cinematography and it is both beautiful and alarming, both soothing and jarring. Lead singer Loic Rossetti builds the tension and gives moments of release but the weight of the songs just pile on. The band takes all of this to a new level.

Although we have had a smattering of EPs this is the first full lengther in a while. Seven songs make up the offering with song names that will test your pronunciation, although if you have a background in geology then that would help work through these stages of the Palaeozoic Era. Who says that you can’t learn from metal, this is an introduction to the Earth’s early stages of creation! The album insert should come with a reading list.

The whole album is immense. However those new to the genre, or perhaps this band, may find the music appealing but the vocal treatments too much to take. The good news is that there is an instrumental version of the album and might help those that are looking to get a toe hold into this growing genre.

For those of us already there, this is a gift from one of the great prog bands on the circuit today. Two tracks stick out on this album. The first is Ordovicium: the glaciation of Gondwana. This song took on a new life for me when I saw it live at the Progfest Sideshow in Adelaide. When Loic handed the mic to an audience member while he performed a tricky balcony dive with twist, only punctuated the insanity of this song. The second standout track is Devonian Nascent which comes with Jonas Renkse of Katatonia on vocal duties. It’s just a great track. I saw another review that called it a beautiful ballad. Sure, it’s the Ocean doing a ballad that sounds like they have gone through hell to get this recorded. It’s beautiful but it’s a roller-coaster.

This is an album that fans will jump at and one of the best since Heliocentric. For those new to the genre perhaps it’s a jump too far but the instrumental album might be your best bet. Wherever you are on The Ocean spectrum, you have to see them live. One of the best bands going around by a mile.

Review: Craig Grant

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