Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Album: The Ocean - Anthropocentric

Artist: The Ocean
Album: Anthropocentric
Label: Metal Blade Records / Pelagic Records
Year: 2010

01. Anthropocentric
02. The Grand Inquisitor I: Karamazov Baseness
03. She Was The Universe
04-For He That Wavereth...
05. The Grand Inquisitor II: Roots & Locusts
06. The Grand Inquisitor III: A Tiny Grain of Faith
07. Sewers Of The Soul
08. Wille Zum Untergang
09. Heaven TV
10. The Almightiness Contradiction

It’s fair to say that The Ocean’s latest endeavour divided their fan base somewhat. The release of Heliocentric earlier this year saw the group in a whole new dynamic, now a band as opposed to a collective, complete with a new singer. Heliocentric also marked a significant change in sound for the band, taking out a large chunk of the metal found on masterpiece Precambrian, replacing it with a lighter atmosphere, amongst other things. While most were unhappy with this change, The Ocean succeeded in what they set out to do with Heliocentric, creating an album that is just as worthy of sitting alongside their already outstanding discography. In many ways, Anthropocentric is the perfect completion of the double album, being of just as high quality and rounding out the band’s critique of Christianity in interesting fashion.

While Anthropocentric doesn’t hark back to the heaviness of the band’s earlier efforts, it does provide the perfect contrast to the lighter Heliocentric. Opening jaunt and title track ‘Anthropocentric’ signals this straight away, exploding out of the blocks with layers of sludgy guitar and growls. Much of the record follows in similar fashion, with the traditional Ocean heaviness juxtaposing beautifully with the band’s newly found atmosphere.

Again with Anthropocentric, Robin Stapps has shown he is an absolute genius when it comes to song writing and arrangements. One only has to look at songs such as album highlight ‘She Was The Universe’ for confirmation of this. Elsewhere, the brilliantly named ‘Sewers of the Soul’ displays some excellent work by bassist Louis Jucker in tandem with Stapp and Julian Lido’s duelling guitars. Drummer Luc Hess also deserves kudos for yet another amazingly consistent effort, with some very impressive fills to be found (‘Heaven TV’ and the title track).

Vocalist Loic Rosetti has improved exponentially on Anthropocentric, with no awkward moments to be seen. As with Heliocentric, there are still a great deal more cleans to be found here than on the band’s earlier efforts, however Rosetti seems much more confident on his second outing. In fact there are a large number of vocally impressive moments, specifically the title track and the first two parts of ‘The Grand Inquisitor,’ where Rosetti utilises both his clean and heavy vocals without them coming across forced, as in parts of Heliocentric.

Essentially, if you weren’t a fan of Heliocentric, the band’s latest effort isn’t going to scream ‘classic!’ out at you straight away, proving to be a natural progression for the band. However, the more atmospheric approach to song writing has actually worked in the band’s favour, particularly on tracks such as ‘The Grand Inquisitor III,’ giving off an almost Portishead feel with its light electronics female vocals. In fact, much of the lighter moments of the record are highlights, with tracks such as closer ‘The Almightiness Contradiction’ benefiting greatly from the lighter guitars and orchestration. Rosetti also excels on the closer, with his cleans matching the almost ‘pretty’ strings of the track perfectly.

Anthropocentric is definitely a marked improvement on Heliocentric, showing the band is much more comfortable with their new sound this time around. However, it is unlikely to change any opinions of the band drawn post-Heliocentric, as this album, while quite heavier, is in much the same vein as its counterpart. With the completion of their double album, it is clear The Ocean needed the change in direction, if only to fuel them creatively. In this reviewer’s opinion, despite Heliocentric’s shaky start, the experimentation has been an unbounded success. Anthropocentric is everything great about The Ocean, elaborate concepts mixed with technical proficiency and outstanding song writing. Who are we to stop them experimenting? - sputnikmusic.com

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