Oceano

Depths

Written by: BL on 19/06/2009 21:59:53

Before I get this underway, I'm going to spew out some words first and foremost. If you hate the sound of any of these words or phrases you'd be well advised to stay away from this record. So here we go: brootal, brootality, 2-brootal-2-furious, its-getting-brootal-in-here. Anybody left? What I am trying to say is that if you don't like deathcore or breakdowns or pig squeals, get out of here and stop wasting your time right now. For the rest of you, there is one hell of a monster awaiting below the depths (see what I did there?).

Production duties are courtesy of ... oh its him again, yes our friend Joey Sturgis. So you can expect the bass guitar to not be really heard at all (I managed to make it out on a short part of the title track). But I'll say this, even without really noticing the bass guitar, ears will bleed from the excess heaviness this album exudes from everywhere else. The relentless barrage of blast beats and super tight base pedal runs from drummer Daniel is surprisingly helped by Mr Sturgis' work because there is a real punch to each hit, and his tom and cymbal fills are clear as day. Then of course you have the real meat at the core which are the guitars.

There are 3 elements that really make up Oceano's core guitar sound. The riffing for the most part treads the same ground as bands like Whitechapel and Suicide Silence, where dissonant dual guitars harmonized and played at speed don't really set across as anything new (a couple of interesting harmonics based riffs on 2 of the songs caught my ear though). Next up you have a whole range of breakdowns coming at you thick and fast at every turn like a boxer demolishing his opposition. However while I could slate them for having so many breakdowns it is worth noting that the third guitar element actually helps makes some of these breakdowns memorable and quite frankly, evil as hell and enjoyable for deathcore fans. That is to say, the leads from guitarist Andrew and Tristan have an eerie sense of malevolence and coupled with the breakdowns make for some truly unearthly heavy moments (the end of "With Legions" is a supreme example of this combination in work). The guitar solos are simplistic, never really getting to shred speed, but are tasteful in that they create such an ambience of uneasiness. Having these melodic injections actually make Oceano surprisingly convincing as a deathcore band by having the leads guitars bleed around the heavy parts in such a fluid way. Theres a sense of maturity in the song writing, showing that while it can be effective to sound as heavy as possible, its also effective to bring a melodic side in to prove that you're not just one sided and out to get people to break their furniture. The vocal-less title track sounding deceptively melodic then switching between a clever key change midway to bring in an aspect of horror, before finally shifting back into deathcore territory, demonstrates their craft.

Even the most competent of instrumental work though can be undone in a band if the vocals aren't fit for the job. It's a good thing then that lead vocalist Adam delivers what has to be a ferocious and downright explosive performance. His voice is powerful in both his high pitched shrieks and his death growls and pig squeals. But its when those things are combined to form the most evil sounding demonic vocal effect (where you harmonize high and low) I've ever come across does things truly become awe-inspiring. Not only are they sprinkled throughout the album to good effect, they often come in with such impact it will feel like you've been hit by a high speed train. On tracks like "A Mandatory Sacrifice" and "Samael The Destroyer" I was utterly blown away when they kicked in, and I'd be thoroughly impressed if I can hear it live.

To criticize the album negatively I would say that this album isn't going to convert any haters of the genre. In fact if anything it might strengthen their resolve as there isn't really anything new being dished out from a musical point of view and its easy to find a lot elements here irritating. Creatively speaking though this band is a cut above a lot of other deathcore bands simply for having such a strong recurring theme of sheer darkness (without really even showcasing a far superior technical ability) making them seem a lot heavier and compelling to listen to, the appropriately named closer "Abysm" bringing things to an unsettling yet satisfying finish to, make no mistake, one the heaviest records of the year.

8

Download: A Mandatory Sacrifice, Depths, With Legions
For the fans of: Suicide Silence, Whitechapel, The Acacia Strain
Listen: Myspace

Release date 07.04.2009
Earache Records

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