The one thing that is absolutely certain about The Ocean is that throughout their career, they have managed to keep a very high level of quality in their releases. From their debut album Fluxion and their sophomore release, the destructive Aeolian to their more mature days with the unbelievable Precambrian and the duology of Heliocentric and Anthropocentric, they have given us excellent heavy music, containing post rock, hardcore and doom influences with great concept ideas.
And this is again the case with their newest album Pelagial. While the main concept of Precambrian was the creation of the Earth and that of Heliocentric/Anthropocentric was a critique of Christianity, Pelagial sees the band separating their album according to the pelagic zone and exploring the depth of the oceans. That is also how they treat the intensity of the songs, starting of with the lighter intro of “Epipelagic” before you start dwelling into the much darker depths of the seas.
Soon enough “Mesopelagic: Into The Uncanny” kicks in with its post metal intro before it transforms to a rockier type of song, its great energy will instantly grab your attention and the groove of the track will leave you wanting more. The ambience immediately starts to get a bit darker when you get into the “Bathyalpelagic” triptych. Starting of with “Bathyalpelagic I: Impasses”, which is a post metal/doom hybrid with heavy riffs but also keyboard passages that reveal a more emotional side of The Ocean, after which “Bathyalpelagic II: The Wish In Dreams” comes in with its much more aggressive, very early Mastodon-esque vibe. The trilogy ends with “Bathyalpelagic III: Disequillibrated”, easily one of the finest moments of the album with its grand, heavy riffing and its hardcore explosions with the bands unreal musicianship backing up the track throughout.
That is also when things start to change and are getting a bit more melancholic. In the “Abyssopelagic” diptych, with “Abyssopelagic I: Boundless Vasts” taking the torch from “Bathyalpelagic III: Disequillibrated”, continues on the same heavy, big sounding path, again with some early Mastodon influence, but the highlight here is the second part “Abyssopelagic II: Signals of Anxiety” which shows again a more emotional side of the band, with cleaner vocals and great leads on the guitars, it has a mesmerizing sort of quality to it. And onto the next zone with “Hadopelagic”, the intro of which, the weighty “Hadopelagic I: Omen of The Deep” (about one minute long), creates a contrast with the more dreamy and melodic “Hadopelagic II: Let Them Believe”, which once again shows the incredible ability of The Ocean to craft songs that remain interesting (even when they are nine minutes long) and expressive.
The two last zones are much more dense and there is much more tension on these songs than on the previous ones. “Demersal: Cognitive Dissonance”, with its disturbing ideas on the guitars and its almost cinematic feeling it creates…well, dissonance. Vocals on that track sound absolutely incredible. Finally “Benthic: Origin of Our Wishes” closes the album, seeing The Ocean unleashing their most extreme ideas, giving us what is basically a sludge track with a ceremonial sort of tempo, it acts as a great closing track with its synth sounds in the end.
Even though I thought that Heliocentric and Anthropocentric were both good albums and Precambrian was excellent the very least, I think that The Ocean have now with Pelagial reached their peak. They balance between their influences much better, they sound tighter, the structures of their songs are even more concise, and while they remain heavy and have complex structures, their tracks also have more emotion and melody.
If you already like The Ocean then I do not think you even need to search for reviews online to decide whether you should buy this album or not. If you are new to experimental metal, then Pelagial is a great introduction to the genre. Either way, this is an album that you should not miss. [10/10 – SPYROS STASIS]