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Our Oceans - Our Oceans CD (album) cover


Our Oceans


Crossover Prog

3.99 | 44 ratings

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4 stars I love it when metal heads are smart and creative enough to eschew their habitual 'sturm und drang' day job and seek to delve into the softer realms of sonic manipulation. Case in point this new band from the Netherlands which nicely proves my point. Tymon Kruidenier is both a leading member of prog death metal band Cynic as well as Exivious, a highly talented guitarist, composer and vocalist. While these bands are not my cup of tea, I was quite determined to review this album, not only for the fabulously gorgeous cover art (album art of the year, me thinks!) but also because I was intrigued by the fretless bass video demonstration from Robin Zielhorst, which really resonated with me. His playing throughout is first rate, nicely up front and center, thankfully not buried deep in the mix. Tymon also has some pretty amazing vocal chords and the material he chooses surely elevate his talent even more. Shouldered by a terrific drummer in Jasper Barendregt and second guitarist Michel Nienhuis, this foursome certainly can deliver the goods. All four form the basic lineup of Exivious and having heavy and technically expert musicians playing 'lighter' material is a true measure of the excellence displayed here. What kind of music you ask? Well, generally short songs firmly in the crossover genre, relatively mainstream accessible but with overt power in the delivery and confidence on the playing ability. The quality of the pieces are on par with similar acts such as Steve Wilson or even recent Riverside which frankly comes as a purely intended compliment. Tymon sings with passionate thoughtfulness throughout, hitting a variety of high notes with seemingly little fuss, crowning the melodic prog-rock with some expressive power and feeling.

Songs flow naturally, all imbued with their own melodic preciousness, each one hitting the listener with immediate positivity. They are all fabulous tunes, no filler here, believe you me! Immediately attractive songs like the deliciously overpowering opener 'What If?' with its jazzy feel, airy vocals and fluid bass lines and the more mysteriously demure 'Tangled' really show off some serious talent, exuding both interest and confidence that bodes very well for the future. Tymon's vocals are awe-inspiring and technically intricate, the man can sing with the best of them. The electric guitar solo is a trembling and trilling flurry of sizzling notes and heartfelt zeal. More spine- tingling leads 'Precarious' along, a brief slice a dreamy atmospheric prog that really hits the mark. There are times when a slight jazz feel shows its head, a bit like Holdsworth-era Level 42, again a huge compliment indeed. The surprising 'Lioness' Sunrise' is the first of two longer track here, clocking in at over 6 minutes and is perhaps the most atmospheric and laid-back, showcasing restraint and ambient feel. Robin's bass roll dazzlingly along, a master of fretless resilience that really elevates this album to heights that I can really quantify.

The supremely melodic 'Am I Still Here?' hits some very high notes (damn, those metal boys sure can wail!), thus always keeping things interesting within the rather restrictive genre they have chosen. This short piece contrasts hard and soft craftily, seeming like a roundabout turnstile track and a sign of things to come. 'Illuminate' does exactly that, showering shimmering light upon the psychedelic proceedings, a warm settling breeze blowing through the clouds, 'drifting out of mind' . There is a cool Anathema-like feel, dreamy atmospherics marshaled front and center, with an airy voice that can suddenly wail mightily as the aromatic Zielhorst bass blows like a Mediterranean zephyr. The second part really intensifies into a grandiloquently lit stage for some harrowing interplay.

Another fabulous track, and longest here is the sinewy 'Turquoise', a dreamy and atmospheric journey that smolders like a sizzling campfire, mostly due to Robin's fascinating fretless bass furrow, rekindling commemorations of giants like John G. Perry, Percy Jones and the immortal Mick Karn. The colliding guitar cascades are harrowingly perfect, as both Kruidenier and Nienhuis cross axes with apparent affluence, Jasper beating his kit like some madman across the water. Stellar track, this! The immediacy of 'Let Me' aims straight for the pleasure nodes, a rolling and rocking piece that cuts to the chase and delivers a harder edge. The helium-fueled soaring vocals from Tymon are mind bending, the mood overpoweringly bombastic and a true blast for its immediacy, freshness and virtuosity!

My favorite track among many, 'Reawaken' is the splendiferous finale, fully loaded with serenity and eloquence, featuring Tymon's softest voice yet, gradually working up into a frenzy as the spirit of the song 'reawakens' the sense of pleasurable listening that permeates this entire recording. Pastoral and bucolic at times, then forceful and animated, the track does wonders with the enthralled mind seeking deliverance.

All in all, a stimulating addition to our precious prog community and certainly very deserving of added interest as well as more reviews on our site. Fans of Anathema, Sylvan and Riverside will like what they hear. Great debut with many more to come!

Dank u wel, Tymon!

4.5 Shared Waters

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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