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The Ocean - Pelagial CD (album) cover


The Ocean


Experimental/Post Metal

3.88 | 153 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars An album suggestion from a good friend of mine (specifically a fan of Avant-Prog and Prog Metal predominantly), Palagial is the sixth LP by German Progressive Post-Metal band The Ocean, released in 2013. Certainly didn't know they hailed from Germany, nor how long they've been in the game so to speak (their first apparent Demo EP released in 2001), and I certainly am entrusting my current (now less ignorant) view of them with Wikipedia. Praise be haha. This album came out around the time I became only vaguely familiar with this side of modern progressive music (I really liked Russian Circles), so... That's exciting!

Our album begins with the underwater beauty that is "Epipelagic", with simple piano as bubbles rise up to meet us, continuing seamlessly into "Mesopelagic: Into the Uncanny". String arrangements are provided by Philippe Glandien, and we get some loveliness thereby until the rest of the traditional Rock instrumentation, most notably electric guitar, comes in fullness. Highly melodic, we have clean, though gruff, lead vocals from Loic Rossetti, who also performs unclean, heard specifically with some of the most intricate rhythm work on the track. There are of course elements of Prog Metal, yet they are met with what I would consider Alt Metal. And frankly, the opening up that occurs in the fourth minute, perhaps surprisingly, reminded me immediately (and weirdly) of Foo Fighters. This is heightened by the choice of guitar tone used. What comes next, though it were naturally that same track, is a sweetening on "Bathyalpelagic I: Impasses", with the return of apparently acoustic piano and some pretty great vocal melodies. I'm really enjoying this one. Vocals here interestingly reminded me most specifically of Beardfish's Rikard Sjoblom. Some of the rhythmic flavors are also reminiscent of Tool. Continuing on in "Bathyalpelagic II: The Wish in Dreams", we get more beeves with unclean vocals at the start. The guitar work is pretty good, being orchestrated and well-purposed in my opinion. Still flavored with various Alt Metal schticks, and even so, this track is the strongest so far.

As "Bathyalpelagic" comes to a close, we get its final part, "III: Disequillibrated", begun with more heavenly key work, honestly my favorite element next to the rhythmically complex riffs they've presented thus far. This track additionally has some of the best guitar work to this point, again well composed. It strikes me as Thrash-inspired. Apparently all guitar is performed by Robin Staps, though this track features a great solo by Mitch Hertz [I tried to find more on Hertz, though I don't know what 'Hot Slop' is and he apparently only ever appeared on this and The Ocean's prior release]. Once more seamlessly, we transition to the next multi-parter, "Abyssopelagic", its first part "Boundless Vasts" featuring a pretty great, very Post-Metal riff. Here, we also get a return of our strings, this time featuring all three performers. This then falls away, in preparation for the second part, "Abyssopelagic II: Signals of Anxiety", which then starts off with a very singular, otherwise ambient bass and guitar chord figure. This builds slowly, I feel appropriately approaching the feeling of its title. This is a very Post-Rock sorta track... Skip... Any Avant-garde elements here, thus far, have been bettered elsewhere. Vocals here, once more, but to put it in plain language, are quintessential Post-Grunge. Unavoidable. Not sorry. Say your prayers haha.

This lull continues on the equally singular "Hadopelagic I: Omen of the Deep"... Its second and final part, "Let Them Believe" is of an entirely other feel, with the return of clean guitar sounds, first heard in the introductory "Epipelagic". "Omen...", to me, had almost no purpose (this feels significant, given the clear conceptual nature of Palagial). With clean instrumentation, we also get more from Rossetti's strong suit (seriously, he has a great voice). This is our longest track, at over 9 minutes (barely longer than what comes next). Big, beautiful chords here. We also get some really interesting, sort of swirly synth(?), I assume then by Vincent Membrez, though honestly I wish it were seriously prioritized in the mix. Much needed quirk. What can be said, though, is that the mixing for the album is genuinely good. With the continuation of other varied sounds within the layers, acoustic piano is met with cello at least. Some really unusual rhythms are pulled out and this will certainly grab your attention, as it did mine. Anyways, far as I'm concerned, "Let Them Believe" is how you do Post-Metal.

Approaching the end to our concept album, "Demersal: Cognitive Dissonance" has a very fun, bouncing rhythm. Some of the most quirky ideas on the album, these elements mostly disperse in favor of ginormo guitar and a hypnotic beat (a modification from the aforementioned introductory rhythm). I'm totally blanking on where I've heard this particular vocal style, though ultimately I feel it's likely rooted in Metalcore. Once again, big beeves all 'round. One of the strongest tracks for the sake of pure songcraft, to me. This is where Post-Metal intersects with subgenres such as Doom. Low and slow, yet totally effective. Finally, we have "Benthic: The Origin of Our Wishes", which is frankly a continuation of this doomy effect; though in this, the track honestly did just about nothing for me. So, it's a somewhat sad ending to an otherwise decent concept album.

True Rate: [barely] 3.5/5.0

DangHeck | 3/5 |


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