The first album of a two part release, this is another sprawling epic from this incredibly talented band. The Ocean have never been ones to shy away from a complex concept, and this latest album is no different.
The press blurb states – “Conceptually and musically, The Ocean’s Phanerozoic is the missing link between the albums Precambrian and Heliocentric/Anthropocentric” – and if you’re familiar with the band’s previous material then this is a good way to think of this latest release.
Combining progressive and post-metal with effortless beauty or crushing heaviness, (and sometimes both at the same time), The Ocean are masters of this sort of thing at this point. Although, it should be stated that “this sort of thing” isn’t really done by anyone else other than The Ocean. Sure, there are surface similarities with many other notably expressive bands here and there, but The Ocean have always very much been their own beasts.
Epic melody and brutal aggression mix together with effortless companionship, not just in the vocal performance, but in the music too. Stylistically you can definitely hear that Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic has more in common with Precambrian in many places than it does the more recent work by the band, but despite this The Ocean still manage to push themselves forwards at the same time as revisiting an earlier incarnation of themselves. There’s a huge breadth of range apparent on the album though, and The Ocean cover a lot of ground with what they do.
Synths and other electronic elements form a greater part of the band’s music than previously; sometimes subtly, sometimes quite blatantly. Either way, it’s a great, (and a natural), addition to their sound. Other instruments also make appearances here and there, (cello, piano, brass instruments), marking the creativity that the band express so freely. There’s also a guest appearance from the singer of Katatonia, which is very nice to hear and who gives a fantastic performance.
Deeply nuanced and layered in sound and style, these songs are highly effective and very affecting. This is music to connect to on a visceral, instinctive level, as well as an obviously cerebral one too. There’s something here for any fan of intelligent, emotive, heavy music.
Utterly immersive and impressively realised, It’s been a 5-year wait since the colossal Pelegial, but that’s over now, and Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic is an absolute stunner.