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Oceansize - Effloresce CD (album) cover

EFFLORESCE

Oceansize

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.03 | 237 ratings

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Wicket
Prog Reviewer
4 stars While in recent years I haven't considered this wonderful English quintet to be of the psychedelic nature, their debut here is probably is the most qualified of the (now) 4 records released by this group.

"I Am The Morning" is the perfect track to represent that, as a slow, dreary, almost optimistic chord progression begins the album, melding into a sort of post-rock groove, which is basically what you'll get throughout the entire album. In fact, the post-rock elements are present (not just this album but in later records as well) so much so that some people unfamiliar with prog would describe this music as shoegaze. Debatable, but perfectly reasonable.

"Shoegaze", for those who aren't familiar, is a style of music which mainly originated in England (Great Britain, UK, etc.) in which the song construction is very basic, the singing is very light (and at times creepy), capped off by the obvious notion that just about all of the bands' members stare down towards their shoes when performing. With this information in hand, judging this disc by the first song, you have a relative guesstimation on what you're going to experience throughout the rest of the disc; slow, continuous rock music with an ominous feel to it.

Then "Catalyst" bursts through with sludgy, almost Black Sabbath-esque riffs to kick you out of a dream. This song can easily put thoughts of a boring song structure and repetitive riffs to shame. Then you begin to notice the singing. Shoegaze is not technically known for the singing aspect of it, nor is post-rock or post-metal or post-hardcore or whatever the hell you call it. Mike Vennart has the pipes of a wannabe Nickelback rock star, and instead of sounding shy and timid like most shoegaze bands follow, he'll be crooning like a pop star until the heavier riffs come in, to which a point where he'll break down the walls with a sudden shriek of anguish and despair, which brings up another moot point.

When was the last time you heard a bland, chugging post-rock/metal band lighten the mood with different riffs, tempo and dynamic changes fronted by a lead singer that could not only croon like Jonny Craig but also scream like a man possessed? Oceansize could easily be pegged a standard post-metal band, but they're so much more than that. Neo-prog may sound like their best home, but even Eclectic prog would be a suitable destination. This outfit combines some of the more modern aspects of rock, metal and prog into a twisted cocktail all their own.

"One Day All This Could Be Yours" starts off in a typical post-rock fashion with an eerie intro and a slow chugging drum line. Vennart, with Steve Durose on the back mics, sings wonderfully well, even though it seems dark at times, but by the end the riffs kick up a notch and that metallic, heavy chugging sound is back again. This is where I really began to crave more interest in the band, since my previous interest in post-rock (during my depression days) has recently faded.

Of course, that post-rock sound returns in "Massive Bereavement" backed by a funky drum track. The vocals once again become a factor is Vennart begins to sing in the upper registers later in the song. In fact, throughout most of this album his singing began to remind me of Mike Patton's singing with Faith No More, albeit fuller and thicker. You take his voice and overlap it over, oh I don't know, a Nickelback or other alternative metal band, and he'd fit in perfectly. His screams at times even seem perfect for the occasion. It's a perfect storm of pop, metal and atmospheric post-rock.

That atmospheric touch is ever so present on "Rinsed", and the post-rock theme of using "rock instruments for non-rock purposes" is clearly there. Naturally, this is countered by the sort of alternative metal touch on "You Wish", followed by the alternative rock "Remember Where You Are", which segues into the heavy hitting "Amputee", followed immediately by the somber "Unravel". It's rather unusual to find 5 different tracks like this from different bands to be on the same album, but Oceansize makes it work, and it's a wonderful style that can't be duplicated.

"Women Who Like Men Who Like Drugs" is a sort of hurricane in a song (coincidence, I'm writing this in the middle of one right now!). The constant rush between soft, gentle guitars and the brash, metallic roar of the heavy sections almost makes you question what you're listening to. But, suddenly, that idea is dissolved in "Saturday Morning Breakfast Show". Here, the listener is greeted almost by a post-metal drone followed by a funky, almost grunge-like beat sustained throughout the song. I definitely hear a lot of Nirvana in this particular track. Of course the trending crescendo common in many songs on this album appears here too until five and a half minutes in where a sudden softness interrupts the ferocity of the guitars for a split second.

Finally, "Long Forgotten" brings a final element into this band's sound: harmony. Peace. Melody. This song could easily be played on the radio and immediately bring in a few new fans to this outfit. Although there are a lot more post-rock elements here than on later records like "Everyone Into Position", this is just their blueprint for the music to come. It's not perfect, but it's something new compared to post-rock bands in general, and that's one key reason why many prog fans have taken a liking to them.

Wicket | 4/5 |

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