Into the Heat – Out of the Shade UK & EU Tour – The Ocean/LLNN/Playgrounded – Manchester Club Academy, 03/09/22 (Live Review)

Into the Heat - Out of the Shade UK & EU Tour - The Ocean LLNN Playgrounded

Although I managed to see The Ocean’s livestream show and I enjoyed it very much, I’ve been looking forward to catching them in the flesh once again. So here we are, back in Manchester, back with The Ocean, (and friends).

Playgrounded

Openers Playgrounded come on stage to thunderous bass and feedback, before launching into their brand of industrially-edged progressive metal.

Playgrounded Live 03.09.22

The bass has a very strong presence, (you can really feel it), throughout and the overall sound is a relatively decent one for an opening act, although the guitars do seem drowned out by the overpowering bass, (with the exception of the penultimate song, which seems to have all of the riffs for a while, quite out of nowhere). The music’s groove is strong and it’s hard to resist its siren call.

Playgrounded sound nicely heavy and the singer’s voice clear. Although some of the nuances of their sound are buried in the mix, the band’s performance is quite an enjoyable one. They all seem quite into it too, which is good to see.

LLNN

Up next are LLNN, who I have been so excited to see. They do not disappoint.

Opening with the explosion of monstrously heavy sludge that is Imperial, LLNN dominate the stage. It is simply impossible to remain unmoving, and I’m clearly not the only one who feels this way.

LLNN Live 03.09.22

LLNN are animated and perform well, giving their all to the gods of distortion and amplification. Their intensity is hypnotic. Industrial ambience and apocalyptic synths accompany the massive songs as they destroy the stage.

“Now we have given you a solid beatdown it’s time for some nice music” says the singer, before launching into the more atmospheric, sci-fi sounding Scion. Of course, it’s still crushing. Losing his guitar for the bass-driven Desecrator allows the singer a bit more freedom onstage, and the bass groove is undeniable. The last song is particularly effective, (Tethers), ending the set with an extended doom workout. Nice.

The songs are devastating displays of rhythmic punishment, and I am left happy and satisfied with LLNN’s set.

The Ocean

Now it is time for The Ocean; the main event. They deliver a captivating set with a mostly issue-free sound that engages throughout. Every band member has good presence, but the singer in particular is a joy to watch.

The Ocean Live 03.09.22 1

Opening with Triassic off their latest record Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic, the band quickly establish in no uncertain terms why they are one of the world’s premier progressive metal acts.

Older cut She Was the Universe features the guest vocals of the LLNN singer, which works very well indeed. I like that the vocalist of The Ocean keeps giving the LLNN singer happy looks as he roars out his parts. Following this is then the stunning Silurian: Age of Sea Scorpions, which sounds awe-inspiring and full of potency.

Bathyalpelagic I: Impasses and its partner Bathyalpelagic II: The Wish in Dreams are up next. The singer crowd surfs while singing the start of the former, while the latter commands the first mosh pit of the evening, albeit briefly.

The Ocean Live 03.09.22 2

Oligocene is an instrumental highlight that’s all shimmering melody and spacious atmosphere, leading into Miocene | Pliocene, with its achingly beautiful chorus. Permian: The Great Dying is yet another great song with a shockingly strong live rendition. Another mosh pit is born, quite rightly, as the dynamic transitions between light and heavy in this song are exquisite.

Instrumental bridging track The Carboniferous Rainforest Collapse grooves along quite nicely, before Pleistocene dazzles with its rhythmic, hypnotic pulsing. The sheer intensity of the blast beat-driven end section is a thing to behold.

The Ocean Live 03.09.22 3

Cryogenian plays as a backing track, before Jurassic | Cretaceous flattens the crowd with its mammoth opening riffs. Then it’s all rumbling heaviness and epic soundscapes until the end. Although it suffers from a slightly uneven sound in places for some reason, it still firmly manages to deliver the goods.

Once again affirming just why The Ocean are so highly regarded, this was a great evening with a great band. If you get a chance to catch The Ocean live, don’t miss out.

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