The Ocean – Pelagial

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Undoubtedly The Ocean has always been a band which demands a deeper concentrated focus to discover, understand, and reap the rewards of their creative leviathan like albums. They continually challenge the listener and themselves from album to album, investigating the complexities and simplicities of sound, emotion, and imagination. Their eagerly awaited new album Pelagial is no different, a release which offers a journey of beauty, intensity, rapacious shadows, and impacting depths which ignite the visual and emotional heart.

Pelagial as its title suggests, is a submersion through the open ocean, an intriguing and inciting dive through five pelagic depth zones: epipelagic, mesopelagic, bathyalpelagic, abyssopelagic, and hadopelagic. It is also simultaneously a provocative soundscape across the darker crevices and corners of the mind to which emotions and reflective shadows are ignited for an individual and personal concept; it is a unique travelogue of intensity and inner exploration unique to each listener. One continuous piece of music split into passages or episodes with interludes of underwater sounds and samples taken from old submarine movies to mark transitions, the album envelopes the senses and thoughts in a richly enterprising and invigorating expanse of sound and descriptive sonic narrative. It is challenging and at times claustrophobic, an overwhelming intrusively close wrap devoid of light the further down into its dangerous depths you go, and a piece of invention with a current which guides and forces listener and album into an emotional pressurised squall.

Mixed and mastered by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia, Witchcraft), the Metal Blade Records released Pelagial is a progressive Covertour-de-force and an album which at the same time leaves questions in thoughts, not as to how impressive it is, that is undeniable, but how to interpret not only its expanse but the emotions it ignites within its enthralling company. It is without doubt an album which has to be devoured numerous times to appreciate and reveal all the scintillating adventure, pure invention, and furnace of multi-faceted emotions it unleashes, and that is possibly the only thing to lever against its towering presence for some, the intensive work needed to truly understand it and reap the deepest riches within. To counter that comment though it should be said that the album is one of their most accessible releases in recent years making for as mentioned an insatiably intriguing and evocative encounter which continues to make the band the most wonderfully unpredictable and forward thinking boundary pushing forces of within metal/rock.

From the opening light soaked piano crafted instrumental Epipelagic, its surface a light and warm dazzling beauty, the album breaks the surface to melodically swim through Mesopelagic: Into the Uncanny. The guitars of Robin Staps and Jonathan Nido sculpt the coloured textured waters magnetically whilst additional strings add emotive whispers to elevate the lush coaxing. The rhythms and guitars raise the temperature as the urgent busy surroundings to the continuing submergence end the link between air and water with the vocals of Loic Rossetti, as ever irresistible whether scowling and growling or seductively expelling the lyrical revelation and its mutually descriptive and personal potency, lights up the atmosphere. Beside him the crisp guiding rhythms of drummer Luc Hess frame and vein the piece whilst the bass of Louis Jucker adds further menacing textures to the now imposing strength of the landscape.

The three part passage of Bathyalpelagic steps out from the already riveting drop, especially parts I: Impasses and II: The Wish in Dreams, both virulently persuading the passions with their continually shifting and swirling addictive and uncompromising declarations. The vocals of Rossetti on the first are aural manna, an irresistible temptation within the bruising and explosive enterprise persistently buffeting and thrilling the senses. The second part increases the intensity and exhausting toll with a ravenous and imperious tempest of sonic strokes and melodic sirenicity within an imposing provocation which refuses to take no or defiance for an answer.

The two sections of Abyssopelagic press harder with a predatory breath as the pressure and intensity darkens and increases further into the release you go through but also hold moments of acclimatised calm and resolve which temper the building ferocity of emotion and intensity whilst Hadopelagic I: Omen of the Deep and especially its companion II: Let Them Believe makes the listener feel at ease with the new depth, the seeming elevation away from the impending blackest depths a melodic and inspiring deep breath for the final push which the beckoning primal rhythms of Demersal: Cognitive Dissonance welcomes with contagious invention and initially startling mesmerism, like a lack of oxygen induced temptress,  and the closing Benthic: The Origin of Our Wishes devours, greedily accepting the offering with carnivorous hunger.

Pelagial is exceptional but as mentioned an album which has to be dived into numerous times preferably as one continuous movement, to truly feel its full triumph, each submergence unique and  consistently rewarding invigorating explorations from the distinct and innovative imagination of The Ocean.

http://theoceancollective.com/pelagial/

9.5/10

RingMaster 01/05/2013

 

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The Old Wind – Feast On Your Gone

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    Feast On Your Gone, the new album from Tomas Liljedahl, the former vocalist of the legendary Breach, is a release which torments and challenges the psyche, emotions, and at times sanity. The seeds of the project The Old Wind grew in the mind of Liljedahl during a dark period in his life and mind, the project an avenue, in his own words “…to get these demons out of my system.”  It is a raw, ravenous, and cold consumption of the senses, a release which others might find an escape in too or just as easily find it sparks their own fight with the shadows. It is an impacting and corrosive confrontation, a caustic soundscape devoid of light and hope but equally it is hypnotically tempting, a dangerous challenge impossible to refuse.

The Old Wind initially a solo studio project for Liljedahl, with the artist writing and recording every instrument on Feast On Your Gone alone, soon provoked the need and realisation that the tracks needed to have a live declaration as well. Liljedahl brought in former Breach band mates Niklas Quintana (guitar) and Kristian Andersson (bass) as well as drummer Karl Daniel Liden and finally Robin Staps of Pelagic Records and The Ocean as third guitarist. It is a formidable cast for which anticipation and hunger for their live debut is immense, all instigated by the towering brute of a vicious album.

Stepping from behind a child’s spoken intro, opener In Fields immediately marks that this is not going to be an easy ride or a IMG_4607_smcomfortable listen, the overwhelming intensity of the guitars and rhythms prowling by a snarling predator of a bass sound instantly oppressive and intimidating the senses. The doom loaded gait of the track holds the emotions down for the coarse riffs and sonic fires to smoulder upon thoughts, the vocals of Liljedahl scarring with a maelstrom of spite and despair. It is an encounter for which the word intensive barely gives justice, the primal essence and breath of the track filling and twisting every atom and feeling daring to show its face within the listener.

The following I’m Dead suggests a less vile proposition at first though the carnivorous throaty leer of the bass is never less than dramatically intimidating and the atmosphere from the first note fanged. It is mere moments though before flesh and senses burn under the rapacious malevolence borne, the near funereal thick crawl of the track as invasive as it is expansive with the sonic abrasiveness feeding greedily on any weakness and emotive doubt before its tempest.

Through Raveneye and The Old Wind the ugly coaxing continues, the songs demanding and receiving a less than willing embrace from awakened shadows but one needed to be made before the enthralling leviathan of darkness. As they and subsequent tracks gnaw and savagely take control of the ear and beyond, it is very easy to lose track of which song is which, at what point in the provocation you are, especially in periods where the vocals leave the tortuous sounds to exploit  the darkness alone but this is not because tracks sound alike but down to the fact that the album is really one singular arduous nightmare being unveiled and dispelled. Certainly the tracks work individually but the reality of the full impact and massiveness of the work comes only in a full and continuous emergence from start to punishing finish.

As probably to be expected every aspect of the album is unquestionable, the textures and cavernous corners sculpted from the songwriting imperious through to the musicianship is second to none, the quality in sound as expressive and descriptive as the turmoil soaked vocals and lyrical evocation. It is hard to say that everything about the album is a joy to behold such its malevolent heart but in a time of so many sterile uninspired releases it creates a unique and grasping experience. As the final tracks in the sludge thick corrosive Spear Of A Thousand and the closing toxic instrumental Reign show though, happiness and joy has no place in this potent and painful ridding of inner devils.

Released via Pelagic Records, Feast On Your Gone is not for the faint hearted or maybe even those with their own battles to be fought, but it is a release which leaves long lasting ‘pleasure’ and permanent marks, a barbarous merciless treat.

https://www.facebook.com/Theoldwind

8/10

RingMaster 30/04/2013

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Abraham – The Serpent, The Prophet & The Whore

Bringing probably the most caustic and violent experience you are likely to be exposed to this year, the second album from Swiss metalers Abraham is malevolent beauty. Abrasive, corrosive, and at times verging on physically unbearable for sure, but at the same time it is destructively beautiful and one of the best senses stripping pleasures to be unleashed and willingly endured in a long while.

The Serpent, The Prophet & The Whore leaves one numb yet smouldering on the inside from the sheer might and force, let alone craft, at work within the violation. The band is tagged as post-hardcore/post-metal but as their second album shows there is much more at play. At times there is a sludge/doom smothering to entrap the listener, the thick oppressive weight of tracks a trap to sink into whilst the snarling and demanding rhythms donkey punch the senses and the flaming melodic sonic invention sears right through to the marrow, its acid presence fusing and extinguishing synapses. It is pure bliss with Abraham now one of the giants of extreme sounds as evidenced by the release.

From Lausanne, the band began working on short circuiting its victims from 2007. Hard work and the honing of their weaponry led to the eventual release of their debut album An Eye on the Universe in 2011, through Pelagic Records (who also release the new album), the label of Ocean guitarist Robin Staps. Critically acclaimed the band soon had Europe on its knees playing alongside bands such as Red Fang, Intronaut, Khoma, EF, Celan, Birds In Row, Mumakil, and Kruger. The Prophet, The Serpent and The Whore, an album inspired by a novel by J.G. Rawls, is the staggering successor and. The release is a tempest of emotions; despair, anger, hopelessness to merely scratch the surface, seeping from the eight songs and the lyrics freely adapted from  the story of an unnamed man falling from the sky to crawl through the lowest spheres of the world. Themes of falling from grace, primal fear, physical pain, loneliness and mystical visions stalk the release, Abraham exploring and bringing them forward to make a vivid presence and touch. Musically the sounds are as tortured and destructive as the lyrical content and intent, the combination upon this Magnus Lindberg (Cult Of Luna) mixed album, creating stark, bleak, and sonically pungent soundscapes.

First track Start With A Heartbeat immediately rips the air apart with astringent sonics and merciless beats. It is a slow salt rub upon the senses which elevates its energy to twist and crawl deep within the psyche. The vocals of Olivier Hähnel expel venom of varied shades watched over by the predator growl from the bass of Valentin Jallut. As the guitars of Jacques Viredaz and Mathieu Jallut blister flesh whilst simultaneously manipulating notes, their tight hold wringing every essence and passion from them, the song creates an abusive rapture which can only be welcomed hungrily.

Man The Serpent and The Great Dismemberment suck the light from the soul, their far reaching dark emotions and malicious sounds leaving the deepest scars and equal pleasure. The rhythms of drummer David Haldimann alone resonate through bone and when contributing to the cartilage shearing sonics and melodic thrashing elsewhere makes for the sweetest abuse. Both songs fire the imagination with their constricting breaths and scathing presences, the second of the two a cacophonous scalding which blisters the atmosphere let alone the senses. At times there is a Killing Joke flavour breaking through, predominantly in the vocals with Hähnel having a Jaz Coleman scowl, with this, the leaden bleed of This Is Not A Dead Man, Yet and the closer Dawn having the richest whisper.

The outstanding New King, Dark Prophet and the epic corruption that is Carcasses leave one grasping for a steadying surface whilst gasping for breath under their dehabilitating tempests. As mentioned the release is a challenge to thought and body but there are moments where one is taken to their limits. All the time though the musicianship and wonderful inventive craft is a raging burn to relish and draw rapture from.

The Serpent, The Prophet & The Whore is pure mordant majesty, a brutal beast which rewards time and time again giving new emerging treats with every confrontation. Abraham has taken their already impressive presence and creativity to further stunning inventive and violent heights for one of the albums of the year.

https://www.facebook.com/abrahamtheband

RingMaster 28/09/2012

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