The Ocean

Precambrian

Written by: TL on 05/03/2008 13:34:05

It happens more often than not that the decisions of record labels and distributors confuse me with their seeming inability to make any sense at all. Take the case of The Ocean, or more accurately "The Ocean Collective", German hardcore experimentalists, and their most recent release, the double album "Precambrian". The band has previously uttered strong opinions on how full length albums have been devaluated by the public compared to single songs, and, trying to speak out against that, they made "Precambrian" a double album, complete with concepts and elaborate artwork you'd miss out on if you just downloaded one song. Strange then, that most online reviews only deal with the second half of the release, presumably because someone, somewhere along the chain of distribution has chosen that me and my colleagues throughout the net should only be presented with the latter half of the contigent release, namely cd 2, titled "Proterozoic".

This is the main reason why I pushed "Precambrian" to the bottom of my pile of reviews for a long while, however I have now, by shady means, gotten my hands on the full release and hence I think the time has come for a review!

"Precambrian" is a release that supposedly is themed around the initial geological phenomena taking place early after the birth of planet Earth. On "Hadean/Archean", the 6 tracks are meant to paint you the pictures of flowing lava, thundering earthquakes and boiling oceans and effectively the tracks are heavy as boulders. Like mountains toppling over, we're treated to relentlessly grinding and pounding post-hardcore, while there, for every hard hitting distorted riff, are added periods of eroding ambience and guitarnotes. The changes flow seemlessly together and create a mood that's very distinct from what normal hardcore bands usually bring us, making the brutality of it seem like a means towards creating a bigger picture, rather than being there to simply add energy and passion as would've been more ordinary.

Now if "Hadean/Archean" is the noisy little brother of the two parts of Precambrian, then "Proterozoic" must be the older, more thoughtful and sofisticated older brother, who can still flex his muscles when needed. Depicting the following era of the planet where things are starting to cool off and lifeforms start emerging, it seems logical that the track "Sidean" opens with haunting guitars and eery drumming, paving the way for clean vocals, immediately clueing the listener in on the more varied and contrasted nature of the second cd. The soundscape is incredibly layered with complex arrangements and added instruments like pianos and strings, and the songs progress through dark beauty only to periodically erupt with monumental breakdowns as to show that the titanic forces of the planet have not yet fallen fully asleep.

Taking a look from the top, Precambrian is musically a ridiculously strong release. The Ocean has successfully gone where pretty much no other band goes, and created an epic piece of experimental and progressive hardcore, artistically towering over what most other bands in the near genre-area are capable of. The only 'problem' is that the record is about as accessible as the landslide it sounds like. I for one am struck with admiration for the ambition and sheer skill that has gone into the release, and over numerous listens I've come to appreciate the richness of detail there is to be found on it, but I must also admit that I'm not sure I would have ever gotten to that point if I hadn't had to review it. As most people are most likely to run away from a landslide, musically it will probably take the most curious of appreciators to venture into "Precambrian" and not come back out running for a more forthcoming release. For those with that curiosity and the adequate patience, there's a lot to be experienced

Download: Don't, I suggest listening to the whole thing.
For the fans of: Truly challenging, layered and border-expanding musical experience.
Listen: Myspace
Buy: iTunes

Release date 05.11.2007
Metal Blade
Provided by Target ApS

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