2015’s Mud and 2018’s Place Noir were both impressive, enjoyable, and individual records, displaying Death Engine’s multifaceted approach to heavy music. Now, across 36 minutes, Death Engine showcase a progression in their sound, one which threatens to bring about the end of days with its intensity and negative energies.
Death Engine have always sprinkled their music liberally with post-hardcore, post-metal, and sludge elements, making for a creative band that ignored genre restrictions when they got in the way. This new material leans into this side of the band even further, and Ocean is more emotive and introspective as a result, while losing nothing when it comes to sheer heaviness. Add in a change of lineup and guest drums from a member of Birds in Row, and you have a highly expressive record.
A wider use of mood-based melody is apparent, as is a more atmospheric approach overall. The band have embraced their post-metal proclivities, and these have been successfully incorporated into their hardcore base to produce a collection of songs that are as absorbing as they are impactful.
Sensitivity and raw aggression work closely together on Ocean. Rather than being at odds though they support and complement each other, arising from the band members’ collective personalities to imbue the music with a cataclysmic essence that’s greater than the sum of its parts.
On the one hand Ocean is heavy and unforgiving. It’s harsh and destructive, and is not interested in your opinion. On the other it is open and expansive. It is brimming with atmosphere and emotion, and is only too keen to force these viciously down your throat as you experience what it has to offer. Ocean is an apocalypse of destructive feelings and crushing displays of emotive cathartic heaviness. This is an album of depth and substance, and such physical and psychic weight as to flatten the world.
As you can probably tell, I’m rather enamoured of this album. No matter how much it punishes and brutalises, I keep going back for more.
The return of Death Engine is portentous, and very well-received by yours truly. 2023 could be Death Engine’s year. If so, I hope it’s not the last one.