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Ocean Architecture

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5 stars I have been listening to progressive rock since the 70s. This is the most complete and flawless convergence of genres that I have heard in a very long time. First of all, it is mathematically perfect as it is an album that literally continues from track to track without interruption resulting in a singular track from beginning to end. If you listen to the album carefully, each song flows from the current track through the next without interruption. The last note on the last song on the album resolves with the first note on the first song, creating a perfect rotation into a cyclic experience.

The musicians are incredibly talented. I have watched their You-Tube videos and they are definitely capable of reproducing this stuff live. The live audiences are more than enthusiastic at their shows. The keyboards and lead guitar intertwine in a way that creates a musical melding that rivals the likes of YES. There are times when it seems that Kyle Standifer and Joe Dorsey are having an instrumental conversation. But at the same time this is metal. It is raw, explosive and powerful. The drumming of Nic Giordano is very reminiscent of that of Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy. There are beautiful clean vocals interrupted at strategic points with deep commanding growling, screaming and group shouts. The vocal side of this band is a real treat. Parker Deal does an incredible job of moving back and forth between clean crisp vocals and growls.

This album Animus has a hard edge for sure, but is also complex and emotional. It begins with a melodic vocal masterpiece. The opening piano of Joe Dorsey is awesome, accompanied by the incredible voice of Parker Deal. Incrementally the rest of the band makes its presence building to a crescendo of growling metal that transcends into a continuum of progressive rock that can only be described as fantasy music. The ultra-fast lead guitar and integrated synthesizer of Metatheory running scales up and down the length of the fret board is very impressive. The opening song gently transitions into the Last Stand which is where the growling vocal is introduced. The continuous trade off of clean vocal and growling is unusual, yet wonderful. The song is raw with the group shouts and at the same time symphonic. The piano overlay during most of this piece takes this good metal song and makes it a masterpiece. The next movement is Plato's Cave which is decidedly the song with the most commercial potential as it has great hooks and a catchy chorus. The bass riffs produced by Eric Hodge are accurate and powerful. View the video and you will see that Eric is very comfortable on the stage. There is a lot of complex lead guitar on this song. Velvet is a much heavier song that is emotional, yet less complex until the movement that the band refers to as the Circus from Hell. This little piece is exceptional. Each instrument is played in a different time signature which when combined creates a singular 4x4 march that incrementally increases in tempo until reaching a crazy and intense speed then decelerates to a commanding end. Columns of Time is a pretty song at the beginning and increases in intensity as it goes. The older generation of progressive rock fans will like this track. Steel Ecstasy is the continuation of Columns of Time that for a time takes on a GENT characteristic before folding back into the progressive origin. The final two tracks Aminus Part I and II and the best of the album. I invite the next reader to listen to these and add their own review.

This is an incredible inaugural release. This is a new band and their first album, but has all of the hallmarks of a much more experienced band and a later more mature release. There are a few production issues, but not worth mention. Overall the is an essential addition to your collection. 5+/5

The band currently plats in the Nashville area. They played a short instrumental set at the Ball Room at the final North East Art Rock Festival (NEARfest) in June of 2012. Watch for these guys. If they stick around they will definitely make a mark on the scene.

Report this review (#787893)
Posted Saturday, July 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars If the potential of a band can be measured by its debut release, then boy oh boy do we have a new band to watch. Ocean Architecture, on this first release entitled Animus, have demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that they possess an understanding of the genre that I think a lot of other bands with far larger discographies have yet to achieve. Sure, the album is technically brilliant, but it's far more than that as well: it's subtle, it's atmospheric, it's emotional- all in all, the best way to put it is simply to say that it's really good. There's nothing wildly experimental about the album, but when something is put together this well there really doesn't need to be. These musicians play what they know, and in my opinion, it's pretty clear from this release that what they know is how to play great progressive metal.

"Metatheory" begins with a soft, piano-led section that strongly reminds me of BTBAM's softer moments. There are some very cool lyrics in this beginning section, and the track has a great slow build, first intensifying the piano part and then providing one of the coolest vocal moments I've honestly ever heard. A very faint hum is introduced and slowly intensified into a stunningly gutteral growl; it can't have been an easy technique to pull off and it sounds amazing. It's also a brilliant way to transfer into the more uptempo, metal portion of the track, featuring some great riffs and a killer guitar solo backed by some understated but very cool orchestration. The musicians are obviously very good at what they do as well; there's excellent interplay between all the instruments and the track's mostly instrumental 6+ minute runtime flies by.

"The Last Stand" begins with another softer section. Atmospheric percussion meshes with distant, murky-sounding guitar to create a great ambience. The introduction of more driving percussion introduces the beginning of the track proper, and when vocals enter the incredible compositional maturity (considering this is a debut) becomes shockingly apparent. With a combination of melodic vocals, growls, atmospheric keyboard parts and distorted riffs that remind one of Pain of Salvation at its best while also sounding completely fresh, it's obvious that Ocean Architecture have drawn from a variety of disparate influences to create the sound of the album, and this 8 minute track in particular proves that they've succeeded in creating their own varied, compelling sound.

"Plato's Cave," with a hefty 9 minute runtime, shows that Ocean Architecture is by no means afraid of long songs and that they are more than capable of pulling them off. With a more strident, heavier sound than "The Last Stand," "Plato's Cave" nonetheless features great arrangement and orchestration to complement its heaviness. The clean vocals perhaps lack some of the technical perfection of other, more operatic bands, but they fit the music very well. Where the vocalist really shines, however, is in the growls, which are powerful, passionate, and, to my ears, have some of the best tone this side of Mikael Akerfeldt. There's also another brilliant section where clean vocals start at nearly a whisper and slowly crescendo into amazing growls and shrieks; to my mind, the kind of stylistic mastery demonstrated there is far more important than pure technicality. To cap it all off, there's some reprises of thematic elements from "Metatheory," which creates a very nice sense of cohesion in the album and provides a nice callback for listeners who are paying close attention.

"Velvet" is the shortest song on the album thus far, but it comes out swinging, with pounding riffs and frenetic keyboards playing behind perhaps the most brutal vocal part on the album so far. "Velvet" has a much more extreme-metal vibe than any of the previous tracks; the vibe is far more Unexpect or Between the Buried and Me than Pain of Salvation, especially in the kind of "twisted carnival" sound from the keyboards. Not content to sit in one style for a whole song, however, there's also a very cool part towards the end of the song that sounds like it might have been inspired by some kind of folk dance: a simple melody is played over and over, constantly speeding up and being elaborated upon until the track comes to its conclusion.

"Columns of Time" slows things down again, bringing the piano back to the forefront and featuring mostly clean vocals and a surfeit of melodic guitar and keyboard parts among the riffs. It's a testament to Ocean Architecture's skill as composers that they can pull off a track like this right after a track like "Velvet," and that they do so with equal aplomb. Particularly notable in my mind is an instrumental section in the middle of the track that features some truly gorgeous piano and guitar that's used sparsely but incredibly effective. The percussion, too, deserves credit for its subtlety; the beat sounds deceptively simple but there's a ton going on if you listen carefully. When vocals re-enter over this mix they're also used very well; there's a lot of excellent harmony and counterpoint and growls are placed minimally over quiet instrumental parts to create a great juxtaposition. The track gets a little heavier towards the end and closes with a great instrumental section that transitions seamlessly into the opening growls of the next track.

"Steel Ecstasy: Columns Collapse" again makes masterful use of the interplay between instruments to create an amazing atmosphere that's both heavy and highly melodic; technically brilliant but also highly emotive. There's an incredible sense of sorrow running through the entire track; most prog-metal certainly doesn't evoke the kind of emotion that this track does and I struggle to think of another example where growling has been so effectively used to convey an emotional state. "Steel Ecstasy" is undoubtedly one of the less accessible tracks on the album, but I also think it's one of the best, with exceptional pathos and an incredible sense of pacing that's perfectly suited as a lead-in to the final, two part track.

"Animus Part I" is the beginning of the end, opening with a wonderfully bleak, gothic- sounding motif that transitions into a much heavier theme, mixing growls and clean vocals to great effect and featuring more of the same awesome guitar-keyboard combination that's been all over this album. The track also has a great sense of finality to it; I really don't know any way to describe it other than to say it "feels" like it belongs at the end of the album, which suits it perfectly as the album's penultimate track and the first part of the finale to the whole affair. "Part I" ends with a frenetic guitar that spirals off into silence, but it isn't long before "Part II" begins anew with crunching riffs and delicate keyboards that somehow perfectly match the heaviness. The vocals are probably the best they've been anywhere in the album, with the clean harmonies pulled off flawlessly and the growls interspersed exactly where they will have the greatest effect. The ending in particular is masterful, with a huge collage of vocal parts that sound like it's made up of melodies from earlier in the album that all blend together in one huge arrangement. It can't have been easy to pull off compositionally but it's done exceptionally and it's an intensely satisfying end to the album. A very pretty piano outtro provides a nice callback to the album's beginning and provides an excellent sense of circularity and closure.

Animus, like all the best albums, is one that rewards repeated listening. The melodies may not be as immediately accessible as some other bands may be, but the composition and performance of the tracks leaves very little to be desired. Overall, then, this debut from Ocean Architecture is a wonderfully satisfying journey and one that I fervently hope will be followed by many more releases, because this is one heck of a starting point.


Report this review (#810281)
Posted Saturday, August 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars 'Animus' is a breathtaking enjoyable album from TN based progressive metallers Ocean Architecture. This album has all the fundamentals I like about this genre that strikes that chord with me for its rich diversity, fun energy and passion.

There is so much to enjoy from this album, it is huge, I'm really excited about this band, musically it's all here, there is something for everyone to enjoy throughout 'Animus', we couldn't ask for more really an this is one of those albums I can play forever and get lost in. Watch out for Ocean Architecture, one to look out for in the future and a band who perform with feeling and style, and that's a rare thing.

Report this review (#840401)
Posted Friday, October 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ocean Architecture is a progressive metal band from TN, USA. There are many different styles present: a cocktail of metal, jazz, fusion, post rock and tech metal. A very interesting album. Reminded me of Anathema and Cynic sometimes, and the mood changes rapidly throughout. Judging by the name of the album, it is a single, conceptual work. Rare beauty is expressed by these Americans. Too bad they only have one record. May not appeal to all progressive rock fans, but throughout the disc, there seems to be something for almost everyone, as each track has a distinct flavor. Highly recommended, 4.5/5

Favorite tracks: Columns of Time Animus Part 1 Plato's Cave

Report this review (#844870)
Posted Thursday, October 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Ocean Architecture "Animus" 6.5/10

When listening to Ocean Architecture's "Animus", I was definitely reminded of bands like Pain Of Salvation and Dream Theater, even if only slivers of them. Overall, it left me thinking it is a pretty good album, something I'll likely listen to again; Animus has some great attributes to making it an above decent progressive metal album. There is fair mix between technical and simple, and I feel the layers were done well. I really enjoyed the piano layer being played around and with the heavier guitar parts. The piano flowed incredibly well with the darker guitar. Additionally, the melodies were enjoyable and worked well with each other.

The transitions were, for the most part, incredible when used. Bringing specific attention to the transition between "Columns Of Time" and "Steel Ecstasy: Columns Collapse" which was really done extremely well. The songs blended together and "Steel Ecstasy: Columns Collapse" took off following the incredibly smooth transition with valour. However, despite this and other great in-song transitions, I feel that the transition between the intro section in "Metatheory" to the next section could have been done a little better, possibly smoother. Despite this, I really enjoyed both sections of the song; "Metatheory" contains a definitely enjoyable melody. The intro used it very well. Additionally, I was hoping for an epic transition between Animus parts I and II, though I was left hearing none.

The drums and the style of drumming on this album fit really well with the album sound, however, I feel the sound levels could have been balanced a bit better, specifically the bass drum which I found could have been boosted, especially in the intense and heavy sections, the bass drum seemed lost under the intensity. With the intense sections on mind, I think of the song "Plato's Cave" which held on to an incredibly well placed blast beat section, followed almost perfectly by a melodic piano section. Additionally, one of the melodies in this song was great and is something I'll probably whistle to myself at work sometimes.

This album did a great job holding on to its strength the entire time, with only a few, very minor weak moments. It did a great job at capturing a dark and desperate atmosphere, especially with the song "Animus Part I", which also contained an interesting blend of sounds which fit well and I loved.

This album really needed a strong finisher song, and it sure did have one. The song "Animus Part II" is the perfect anchor song to this album. Very strong, and seems to do a great summery of the whole album. It had a great sound to it, and did not disappoint.

Ocean Architecture's Animus is an LP that, though was not among the greatest albums I've heard, did a good job convincing me that the Murfreesboro boys can produce a great sound that will keep me looking out for their next release. They are not quite among the level of Pain Of Salvation or Between The Buried And Me, but these gentlemen sure have the potential.

Report this review (#850904)
Posted Sunday, November 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars What can I say? The first time I saw this band I was petrified. The range of genres they cover in just one song is ridiculous. The fact they range from technical metal to jazz blows my mind, not many bands can do that with such style and ease as they do. Aside from their Mind blowing, Ground shaking, Stunning performance live, The album also takes no prisoners. The quality of the musicianship is unbelievable. Everything works together in perfect harmony. The non forgiving crashing of drums, Killer bass grooves, and ridiculous guitar riffs and solo work, compliment the singing, growling, and screaming of the vocalist, and the legendary, mystical sound of the keyboards. In parts of the album, one might feel as though he is marching into battle, in other parts, it is like you are sailing down a peaceful stream. Animus takes you from the depths of hell to the gates of heaven, and lets you live to tell the story. Aside from the killer musicianship, Ocean architecture are some of the nicest guys you will ever meet. I have seen them twice, and they always have a smile on thier faces and seem to have a great time playing the music they do.
Report this review (#862504)
Posted Monday, November 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ocean Architecture is a progressive metal band from Nashville, Tennessee. I will start by saying that "Animus" has been the soundrack of my summer. This album has been one of the best progressive albums I have heard released this year.

Metatheory: This song starts with a soft start beggining with clean vocals and piano. It then heads straight into driving guitars and heavy drums. This is a great instrumental start to an excellent album.

The Last Stand: The track begins with a slow atmospheric beggining and drives into a more "hardcore" portion with a good mix between clean vocals and growls and even some gang vocals. This is not my favorite but still a good addition.

Plato's Cave: This song is one of my favorites of the album. It starts with complex guitars and drums and flows into a beautiful chorus lead by clean vocals. This heads into a break in the song where the piano starts with a slow melody. The guitars and vocals add in and create a spiraling sound. The song heads back into the chorus to reunite itself with the beggining. The keys and guitars really show off there mastery of their instruments without fighting with each other for the lead.

Velvet: Wow. Velvet is by far the heavist of the album. Throughout, you can here many influences from bands like BTBAM, Dream Theater, etc. This song plays an idea and repeats it. This goes into a break down where the music stops and the words "Your eyes will never see the sun" are spoken and heads into the climax of the song and finally goes into what you think is the end. Just when you think its over, the keys start up with an "evil circus" like sound and repeats the melody. While each instrument starts to add in, it slowly gains speed and ends with a bang.

Columns of Time: This song is the softest song and is a good break in the album. The percussion and instrumental section is very intricate if you listen closely. It is lead by a beautiful piano riff and distorted guitar. You can here influences from bands like "The Reign of Kindo", "The Dear Hunter", etc. The instruments subtley get heavier and eventually heads straight into the next song, Steel Ecstacy.

Steel Ecstacy: Columns Collapse: The song speeds things up a bit starting with driving guitars and fast synth riffs. This flows into a almost symphonic sound with open guitar and piano chords and ends with a genius guitar solo. This song may have the best mix between simple melodies and complex riffs. Animus Pt. 1: I must begin by saying that these last two tracks are by far my favorites. Animus Pt 1 starts things out slow with a simple melody which is repeated throughout the last two songs. The song slowly builds and flows into a guitar solo. It then goes into a faster part of the album with a guitar riff and intense growls. As the song builds it climaxes with a powerful piano solo and a southern Jerry Lee Lewis sound.

Animus Pt. 2 It begins fairly quickly with the same recurring melody heard in the previous song. A dark intensity is built throughout the first half of the song with growls, heavy guitars, and fast synth solos and riffs.The intensity that was built thoughout the first half of the song and even throughout the album is finally released in the second half of the song. The song slows down and becomes very atmospheric with organ and clean vocals. This part slowly builds and other instruments are added on. With overlapping clean vocals and gang vocals this is a good finale to the album. Animus Pt. 2 ends with a beautiful piano part proceding gang vocals repeating the same verse: Your blinded eyes can see Your deaf ears can here Your closed mouth can speak Your mind no longer fears

If not heard, I highly suggest "Animus" to progressive metal fans. It is the one of the best debut album I have heard in years. 4.5/5

Report this review (#864800)
Posted Thursday, November 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Animus' - Ocean Architecture (7/10)

Until relatively recently, I saw the world of prog metal as a stagnant genre. Sure, there were bands out there doing remarkable things with prog and extreme metal styles, but as far as the 'classic' sound largely popularized by Dream Theater went, I got the impression that the majority of participant bands were more or less content to retrace the territory outlined by a few great musicians. Arguably since 2010 with Haken's "Aquarius" however, I've become excited again about progressive metal, largely in thanks to young bands like Ocean Architecture. Like Haken, Caligula's Horse, and Distorted Harmony, Ocean Architecture fuse the classic sounds of progressive metal with a strong contemporary influence. Although the synthesizers and shred sweeps of the bygone era are in full display here, you're just as bound to here parts that would fit on a present day alternative rock record. Ocean Architecture's style isn't completely fresh in the way it brings its many sounds and ideas together, but in combination with strong melodic writing, impressive musicianship and a pleasant conceptual approach, these guys have put together a fine debut with "Animus".

Progressive metal is usually defined by a penchant for time signature changes, synth solos and guitar wizardry, and "Animus" enjoys all of these qualities. However, there's more of a down-to-earth vibe to the performance that you would more likely see in a contemporary rock band. Ocean Architecture's sound is remarkable for its lack of pretentious bombast and 'epic cheese'; exactly the sort of stuff that first bored me with the genre. Although the instrumentation on "Animus" betrays a strong Dream Theater influence, Ocean Architecture clearly brings in more of a present day influence than anything else. Although vocalist Parker Deal's performance here is versatile, his natural tenor sounds like it could fit on an artistically accomplished pop album. Although his voice can be a bit of an acquired taste within the metal sphere, his clean delivery is indicative of great skill, particularly with note to his vibrato. However, in lieu of another of the band's contemporary influences- metalcore- there are also a fair amount of sections here where screams are used. Although there's certainly nothing wrong with harsh vocals, the way they're used on "Animus" feels unnecessary. In fact, many of the album's metalcore influences tend to feel out of place on the album. The worst case of this is an apparent breakdown towards the end of the second track, "The Last Stand", where the strong atmospheric momentum that was built up throughout the rest of the song is broken.

Although you probably wouldn't be able to tell from the album art and music alone, "Animus" is a conceptual album "that tells an unfolding story about doubt, anger, perception, confusion, fear, insanity, and enlightenment." It sounds vague on paper, and perhaps it remains so in the music, but it regardless lays a firm groundwork for a wide range of emotions to be explored in the music. Conceptually, "Animus" is remarkably similar to To- Mera's "Exile", also released this year. Initial anxieties and isolation eventually gives way to a sense of relief and acceptance. The lyrics are functional, but rarely brilliant, seeming to fall back on now cliched 'prog' tropes of reality and metaphorically dressed up ways of describing emotion. Take from it what you will, but Ocean Architecture keep the focus on the music itself, leaving the concept as a sort of 'optional extra' that can be more or less done without. The big thing that the conceptual angle gives here is a greater sense of overarching flow. Particularly with regards to Parker's vocal melodies, there are a few recurring motifs throughout the album. These themes are not recycled ideas from past tracks either; Ocean Architecture's skill with composition enables them to approach the idea from a new perspective. For example, pay attention to the tense melodic chorus of "Plato's Cave", a melody that is altered only slightly in structure, but completely recreated with the much more optimistic melody that fuels the album's climax at the end of "Animus Pt. II". This flow and structure really compliments repeated listens, and leaves "Animus" feeling very memorable when taken as a whole.

It's great to hear a new band so willing to experiment with so many sounds on one album. At over an hour long, "Animus" was a very ambitious undertaking, and for the most part, it has paid off. On top of a strong sense of style and structure, Ocean Architecture also sport a degree of musicianship that you wouldn't expect from a band of their youth. In particular, Nic Giordano's drum performance and Joe Dorsey's keyboard work are fantastic, with the former offering a wide dynamic and the latter adding some great depth and texture to the mix. The production may run a little flat when compared to the 'professional standard', but the fact that Ocean Architecture are capable of competing with the genre veterans this early on is a testament to their potential.

Report this review (#876152)
Posted Saturday, December 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Ocean Architecture is a young prog metal band with one album released so far in 20012 named Animus. Well, if the instrumental section are quite great, even excellent in some parts, the voice of Parker Deal is absolutly horrible at best, but only in the rougher aproach. I mean I like the clean vocals he offered that goes very well in this prog metal context but when the voice turning is that metal core aproach with screams and all or what the hell is, man, I begun to lose my patience fast, and I mean, damn that ruins everything around. Long album with quite complicated moves, nice guitar and keyboards specially arrangements, the sound is little flat overall, but ok in the end. Metatheory beggins well well played prog metal, but the next tune is a total waste The Last Stand - 8 min of forgettable music, the rest of the tracks are ok, let's say, I really like the instrumental parts, if were without voice this Animus album were much much better rated from me, but the screaming voice is forgettable at best. Max 3 stars.
Report this review (#920570)
Posted Thursday, February 28, 2013 | Review Permalink

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