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The Ocean - Anthropocentric CD (album) cover

ANTHROPOCENTRIC

The Ocean

Experimental/Post Metal


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J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The Almightiness Contradiction

Anthropocentric is the perfect definition of a hit-and-miss album for me. There are some huge "hits" that border on masterpiece status, yet there is a decent portion of music here that just fails to capture me in any way. Not because it's bad - if you're a fan of The Ocean, you should love this entire album. The issue here is mainly just a feeling of inconsistency - the mellow post rock and progressive metal sections are very inspired and enjoyable, whereas the post-hardcore sections leave me cold. Although many will disagree with me, I wholeheartedly believe that The Ocean is much better when playing softer music. The Opeth-influenced heavy/light contrasts are something that these guys just can't quite pull off without a slightly awkward atmosphere. It's really a shame, considering all of the fantastic moments on Anthropocentric. If you're a fan of The Ocean or experimental sludge/post metal in general, this is still more than worth an acquisition.

The sound here is experimental/progressive sludge-oriented post metal/hardcore (which is quite a mouthful, to say the least). There are plenty of influences from the post metal scene, as well as bands like Mastodon and even Opeth (mainly in the song structures). The mellow post rock/metal sections are the ones I find myself enjoying the most here - a song like "The Almightiness Contradiction" and "Willie Zum Undertang" is a perfect example of how amazing The Ocean can be. Unfortunately, heavier songs like "Sewers of the Soul" drag down my experience significantly. I enjoy heavy music, but The Ocean sounds a bit uninspired when playing hardcore sections. With that said, almost every song has a few redeemable qualities. Even "Sewers of the Soul" (my least favorite song here) has a solid guitar solo that brings the rest of the song up from pure mediocrity. Another big asset to Anthropocentric is the fantastic musicianship - The Ocean is an extremely tight playing unit, boasting some of the best musicianship in the genre. The two guitarists (Robin Staps and Jonathan Nido) are especially notable, mainly due their terrific guitar harmonies. In a song like "Willie Zum Undertang" it's clear how beautifully these guys can play. The vocals are a bit of a mixed bag for me, but they are always professional and well-done.

The production is great. Anthropocentric sounds absolutely wonderful. Everything sounds clean and crisp - I especially have to applaud the terrific sound of the drums.

Conclusion:

Although I can't say that Anthropocentric is an album that really amazed me, calling it anything less than high-quality would be a lie. I find myself enjoying the softer parts the most, but that's not to say that the heavier sections are poorly made. Fans of The Ocean will adore this album, and I also enjoy it to some extent. For an album that is high-quality, will satisfy the band's fanbase, and attract new fans, 3.5 stars are well deserved. Though far from essential, this still comes as a recommended purchase for post metal fans.

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Send comments to J-Man (BETA) | Report this review (#356023)
Posted Friday, December 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars 'Anthropocentric' - The Ocean (9/10)

With 2007's 'Precambrian', German post-metal group The Ocean (also known as Ocean Collective) came out with a two disc concept epic concerning nothing less than the turbulent creation of the planet Earth. To follow up something so vast, 2010 witnessed the band now releasing two companion albums, each dealing with such topics as the creation of man, the idea of god, and religion. Suffice to say, The Ocean are never short of ambition in the projects they choose to take. While the critique of religion and faith is as ripe a concept as any for a metal album, 'Heliocentric' did end up being a bit of a disappointment. Luckily, the second installment in this chapter of The Ocean turned out to be quite a return to power for the band. With 'Anthropocentric', The Ocean releases one of their most potent efforts yet, with a concept and lyrical content as profound and fiery as the music it is driven by.

When speaking of the sound of this album, there is definitely a more conventional melodic sense here (like 'Heliocentric') than there used to be, in no small part due to the addition of new vocalist Loïc Rossetti, whose clean singing is featured quite prominently here. However, unlike 'Heliocentric', very little of the heaviness and experimentation is relinquished, and there is a very good balance between the heavier vocals and lighter melodic singing. With many of the songs, the clean vocals make some pretty catchy and memorable hooks, but luckily don't feel superficial by doing so.

The title track leads off the album in full force; a nine minute episode of sludgy heaviness, mixed with rhythmic experimentation. While the track begins in a very typical, atonal style for The Ocean, the differences and developments start to be heard when the clean vocals come in, three and a half minutes into the album. In direct contrast to the brute growls, the vocals are often beautifully harmonized, although some of the more stylized singing of Loïc Rossetti can get a tad nasal at times. At least as far as the first track is concerned, the highlights reside in the beautiful mellower moments, where The Ocean gets to properly show their new grasp for great melodies.

Another highlight of the album is the single-worthy 'She Was The Universe', which is a memorable powerhouse from start to finish, despite being highly rhythmically irregular. Along with many of the songs here, the chorus is kept quite melodic. Other noteworthy songs include 'The Grand Inquisitor III', which is the most 'out there' track on 'Anthropocentric'- an electronic trip-hop acid tweak of an interlude- and 'Willie Zum Untergang', a very post-rockish track that showcases the band's more ethereal nature. The only song here that isn't excellent is 'Sewers Of The Soul', which keeps a relatively up- tempo, rock vibe without showing the same compositional complexity and intricacy of the rest of the album.

Lyrically, the material here is bound to cause some controversy, especially among the more religiously-inclined listeners. As was true with 'Heliocentric', 'Anthropocentric' is a harsh, to- the-point critique of Christian fundamentalism and hypocrisy. Philosophical opinions aside, the subject matter is intregated well into a sort of intellectual and thought-provoking poetry that's sure to stir up some debate amongst metalheads.

'Anthropocentric' may very well be a rival of 'Precambrian' for The Ocean's greatest work to date. Despite having one or two songs that feel a bit less inspired than the rest, 'Anthropocentric' is a true definition of the 'thinking man's metal'; highly complex and frenetic sludge metal, mixed with a truly ambitious scope. An imperfect album, but The Ocean's mastery of aesthetic and innovation is readily evident in spades.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#382782)
Posted Wednesday, January 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Anthropocentric" is the 5th full-length studio album by German post hardcore/progressive metal act The Ocean (also known as The Ocean Collective). The album was released through Metal Blade Records in November 2010 and is the second release in a two album series which are thematically connected (the lyrical concept is a philosophical critique of fundamentalist Christianity and Creationism). The first release in the series was "Heliocentric" which was released in April 2010.

The Ocean have long been one of the leading progressive post-hardcore/metal acts out there along with acts like Burst and Between the Buried and Me and "Anthropocentric" is another proof of why that is. This is a band that works even with the smallest details to create a greater whole. Guitarist and main composer Robin Staps sure knows how to write both heavy, beautiful and structurally intriguing music (it should be mentioned that second guitarist Jonathan Nido has also written a great part of the music on this album). "Heliocentric" featured quite a bit of strings and piano but "Anthropocentric" is predominantly played with "regular" rock/metal instrumentation of guitars, bass, drums and vocals. Sometimes layered to sound fat, heavy and epic and sometimes more atmospheric and mellow. It´s safe to say that "Anthropocentric" is a very dynamic sounding album.

The vocals vary between harsh hardcore type shouting and clean vocals. The relatively short "The Grand Inquisitor III: A Tiny Grain of Faith" features clean female vocals by Sheila Aguinaldo. The clean male vocals are skillfully executed by lead vocalist Loïc Rossetti, but there are probably some that´ll find them a bit too accessible and mainstream oriented. Some of his vocal parts and especially some of the backing vocals on the album remind me of Avenged Sevenfold.

"Anthropocentric" is very well produced. It features a big, warm and powerful sound production where every detail is heard. Paired with strong songwriting and a flawless execution of the music, that makes "Anthropocentric" a really strong album by The Ocean. I guess it´s not exactly as raw as some of the early releases by the band (especially "Aeolian (2005)" comes to mind), but it´s definitely just as intriguing albeit in a different way. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#1229500)
Posted Saturday, August 02, 2014 | Review Permalink

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