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Ocean Architecture

Progressive Metal

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Ocean Architecture Animus album cover
3.84 | 71 ratings | 9 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2012

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Metatheory (6:23)
2. The Last Stand (8:17)
3. Plato's Cave (9:01)
4. Velvet (5:25)
5. Columns of Time (7:34)
6. Steel Ecstasy: Columns Collapse (6:08)
7. Animus Part I (9:17)
8. Animus Part II (11:00)

Total Time: 63:05

Line-up / Musicians

Parker Deal / vocals, acoustic guitar, flute
Joe Dorsey / keyboards, programming
Kyle Standifer / guitar
Eric Hodge / bass
Nic Giordano / drums

All members / gang vocals

Releases information

Released independently on March 25th, 2012.

Animus was written between the months of September of 2010 and June of 2011. The music was recorded in Frederick MD, Bethany DE, and Murfreesboro TN between the months of June 2011 and December 2011.

Drums and Guitars recorded with Sam Hillman at Brambleton Sound in Frederick, MD

Vocals and Bass recorded with Wyatt Lampley in Murfreesboro, TN

Keyboards recorded by Joe Dorsey in various locations

Produced by Ocean Architecture and Wyatt Lampley

Album artwork by Warren Sadler

Animus is a musical entity that tells an unfolding story about doubt, anger, perception, confusion, fear, insanity, and enlightenment.

Thanks to pianoman for the addition
and to Snow Dog for the last updates
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OCEAN ARCHITECTURE Animus ratings distribution

(71 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(24%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (25%)
Poor. Only for completionists (7%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by VanVanVan
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.


Review by 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.

Review by b_olariu
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.

Latest members reviews

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 wit ... (read more)

Report this review (#864800) | Posted by YourHandInMine | Thursday, November 22, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#862504) | Posted by Punkphil | Monday, November 19, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#850904) | Posted by IcedPorcupine | Sunday, November 4, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 t ... (read more)

Report this review (#844870) | Posted by finfusion | Thursday, October 25, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#840401) | Posted by CaptiveTheCaptain | Friday, October 19, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#787893) | Posted by TechnicallySpeaking | Saturday, July 14, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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