Oceans of Slumber – The Banished Heart (Review)

Oceans of SlumberOceans of Slumber are a progressive metal band from the US and this is their third album.

I have only the briefest of familiarity with Oceans of Slumber, based on seeing just part of their set at the 2016 Damnation Festival. They impressed me, so it’s great to finally be able to properly listen to and absorb some of their recorded material.

Although this can easily be described as epic, and it is, it’s epic in a largely dark and brooding way, rather than being uplifting or grand, (although there are certainly elements of these latter components in the band’s sound).

There’s an air of old-school doom metal in the band’s music, something which I really like. This is only part of the band’s sound, as this album is a diverse listen, but it seems to run through almost all of what the band do in one way or another. The influence is felt widely, and is channelled well.

Doom, orchestral, extreme, Gothic, and progressive metal elements combine into a highly emotive and compelling collection of tracks. The album is long at 66 minutes in duration, but you don’t tend to notice as the quality and variety of music on offer is absorbing. Oceans of Slumber are adept at taking you on a journey into the world that they have crafted for themselves, and it’s an experience to be savoured and enjoyed.

The album is expressive and personal, wrapped in tragedy and delivered with a grace and naked honesty that’s rare in a lot of metal. Of course, this is balanced against the heavier and more brutal elements that appear in the band’s sound too.

The singer has a hugely impressive and affecting delivery. Her voice is rich and nuanced, spreading emotive texture around the already very textured music. She is, quite simply, a star, and it’s a testament to how good the music is that she doesn’t completely steal the limelight. Various growls and screams support her here and there, reinforcing the death/doom 90s feeling that’s part of the band’s spiritual heritage.

A highly accomplished album, one that’s definitely a firmly recommended listen.

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