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The Ocean - Precambrian CD (album) cover

PRECAMBRIAN

The Ocean

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.89 | 67 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
5 stars 'Precambrian' - The Ocean (9/10)

The word 'ocean' can bring deep images to ones mind; a vast expanse of water, stretching for miles upon miles without apparent end. The ocean is a sight of grandeur and overwhelming majesty.

Keeping this in mind, The Ocean's 'Precambrian' works in much the same way. It is a project of brilliant ambition and risk. Melding a very raw, heavy sound with more thoughtful post-rock tendancies, 'Precambrian' is musically contributed to by over 80 musicians, including an orchestra. It took Robin Staps (the composer) 3 years of his life to put together and arrange this monster.

'Precambrian' is composed of two discs; each portraying a different side of the band's musical leanings, and focusing each on different ends of the sonic spectrum. The first disc ('Hadean/Archean') is a 20 minute dose of raw power and energy, and is without a doubt the weaker side of the album. I've always considered the first disc to be a bonus EP of sorts, and not necessarily a representation of the album at all. It's best to think of 'Hadean/Archean' as a decent opening band before the mind-blowing headliner show. The first disc isn't that bad, but there's very little prog here, and the five songs on the EP sound all sound like each other. There are a few highlights in it (the opening riff of 'Neoarchean' for example) but it's not not really worth delegating a bunch of time to it. Based on the first disc alone, I would give 'Precambrian' a three star rating, give or take.

It is however, the second disc that really shines, and gives 'Precambrian' it's fair place in my heart and mind as a true masterpiece. From the first five seconds of the disc onwards, theres a definite feeling that this is not the sort of material that was found on the first disc. This is something different; and a very welcoming change at that. There are so many different instruments being used here, and different styles being thrown into the melting pot. The extended album introduction 'Siderian' has a saxophone solo, whereas the closer 'Cryogenian' is nothing less than an erudite classical composition with piano and cellos. Songs such as the album highlight 'Stenian' and 'Rhyacian' stand out as being the best put- together pieces on the album, being that they have the post-rock 'build-up' sensibility, but don't tarry too long on getting to where they need to go. Other songs like 'Calymmian' opt to take their time, and while it can detract from the song itself, the progression only benefits the work as a whole.

All in all, 'Precambrian' is possibly the most ambitious and shattering post-metal release of all time. It is a challenging, dense piece of music however, and can tak ea good while to completely delve into and explore the sonic landscape completely. The reward for doing so however, is well worth it. Five stars.

Conor Fynes | 5/5 |

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