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The Ocean - Heliocentric CD (album) cover

HELIOCENTRIC

The Ocean

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.43 | 32 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'Heliocentric' - The Ocean (6/10)

As the first in a two part companionship album revolving heavily around religious critique and a humanistic (and quite often negative) study of the Christian faith, 'Heliocentric' represents the beginning of a new era for Germany-based post metal act The Ocean. While I had listened to 'Anthropocentric' (the second half) before this one, I was already a fan of this band's complex and intelligent music from the 'Precambrian' days onwards, and my expectations were high for the next album. This band has always been prone to take on the most ambitious topics ('Precambrian' revolved around the creation of the Earth itself) and 'Heliocentric' is no exception to this rule. A deeply thought-provoking concept by all standards, 'Heliocentric' does ultimately disappoint my high expectations however. While the album is graced with some brilliant moments and lyrics that will surely upstart more than a few existential debates, the band's new direction does feel basic and less effectively executed than some of the great albums they have released in the past.

With a new vocalist here, the sound of the band is obviously changed a fair bit. While the abrasive growls are the same as they have always been (that is, a mixed bag), the introduction of Loic Rossetti is one of the more skilled singers the band has seen through its revolving door of musicians. However, while 'Anthropocentric' shows the singer's talent in an excellent light, 'Heliocentric' feels as if it stretches the vocalist's style in the wrong direction, usually towards a more abrasive direction that could vaguely be compared with the harsh style of Metallica vocalist James Hetfield. Ironically, many aspects of The Ocean's music have actually become much more melodic and harmonious since the atonal and unsettling sounds of 2007's 'Precambrian'. Even going as far as to have a piano-driven ballad like 'Ptolemy Was Wrong', 'Heliocentric' does see the band going in a slightly less complex direction with their music, and that did often feel to me like The Ocean's greatest strength; their meticulously crafted arrangements. Songs like 'Metaphysics Of The Hangman' are driven by chorus structures, and while this doesn't necessarily mean that the music will be worse, in The Ocean's case, it does. Mixed results on Rossetti's new vocals,some inconsistent writing, and a more accessible direction? Doesn't sound good, but the album is far from being poor, and still sports a good deal of strengths.

First among the positive aspects of 'Heliocentric' is the lyrical content and concept. On an even calibre with 'Anthropocentric' here, the lyrics generally revolve around the Church's resentment towards science, as well as to debunk Creationism (a theme further developed with the second part) and question the existence of a divine entity. While this will offend some Christian listeners surely, the lyrics are written quite tastefully, touching upon the subjects through a poetic, often metaphorical language that really becomes the highlight of the album.

The Ocean's 'Heliocentric' is certainly one of the weaker points of The Ocean's career, especially considering when the band has had such success with releasing absolutely phenomenal records. in the past. However, tracks like 'Firmament' and 'The Origin Of Species' and a few others provide a great listening experience typical of the band's output. While the album did not reach my expectations however, it would pave the way for 'Anthropocentric', which is the real masterpiece to be spawned from this project.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |

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