Inspiration comes from all sorts of sources and sometimes, things need to be broken and allowed to resolve to a natural conclusion. OCEANS OF SLUMBER tries to break down subtle cycles within our societies and those beneath our own skin as well. As is typical for them, what they do best is to capture sentiment on their new self-titled album, as the latest offering seeks hope for the hopeless through a powerful demonstration of southern darkness.
OCEANS OF SLUMBER crosses from the softer side of progressive metal to the flesh-tearing aggression present in death metal, reaching across these boundaries with rare artistic fluidity. The six-piece from Houston includes two guitarists, Jessie Santos and Alexander Lucian, working in harmonious fashion alongside Mat V. Aleman on keyboards and Dobber Beverly on piano and drums. Supported by the rhythm section by Semir Özerkan on bass melodies, everything comes together with vocalist Cammie Gilbert, who has married technical proficiency with a great heart.
Death metal influences make their mark on the opening track, “Soundtrack to My Last Day,” a lengthy song which embraces both the tenderness and ominous undertones that flow throughout “Oceans of Slumber.” This variety, persisting both within the track and across the whole of the album, follows an organic yet dynamic pattern of growth.
In “Pray for Fire,” drummer, producer, and songwriter-in-chief Dobber Beverly has crafted a passionate, yet strong composition, embodying the same thunderous characteristics that can be seen in his performance. The tender intro guitars float across the opening moments, courtesy of new members Jessie Santos and Alexander Lucian. The song soon finds a life of its own as Gilbert’s vocals dance around some stirring progressions.
Leading single “A Return to Earth Below” captures the turmoil and relief found at the moment when we stop running from pain, the truth, and ourselves. Once again, Gilbert runs to nowhere as she stands and confronts some of her own truths on this confessional piece. It is a song that sees this extraordinary vocalist warming up for the rest of this thought-provoking album. “Oceans of Slumber” can be an exciting and yet still unnerving thing when the music penetrates that part of you that needs it. Even when we invite it in, somehow it still catches us off guard. There are more than a few such moments on this album and when you come to one, it feels like someone crawled inside your head and moved all the furniture around.
Gentle “Imperfect Divinity” is peaceful ambient track with dynamic progression, like an overture to the “The Adorned Fathomless Creation.” This song also shows off the vocal chops of the updated line-up, with the growls stuffed full of gravel without losing the effects of careful enunciation as the song progresses. “To the Sea” is a very melodic track where Gilbert’s voice draws you in like a warm current, inviting you to walk with her into the water. Even with the rough melodic riffs, it gives you a peaceful feeling of floating underwater. “Captivating depths” describe “September,” the highlight track for Dobber Beverly that serves as a prelude to the fires of “Total Failure Apparatus.” The instrumental isolation and composition stand up even in the absence of Gilbert’s all-consuming vocal presence.
Nothing is off limits in “Oceans Of Slumber,” which is highlighted particularly well in the vast scope of “Total Failure Apparatus,” which swings from elegant orchestral passages through the arctic frost of blackened death metal. With three new additions to the OCEANS OF SLUMBER line-up since the last album, “Total Failure Apparatus” is a striking opportunity for the new faces of the band’s harsh vocals to prove themselves in a desolate landscape of anguished howling and aggression. Distorted guitars emerge as the track progresses from Gilbert’s almost tranquil darkness before giving over completely into a cacophony of chaotic drums and electric discord.
OCEANS OF SLUMBER are still relatively young, yet with a veteran appeal, guided by a sometimes painful honesty. They are not restricted by time or topic and aren’t afraid to speak their mind. Thematically, their upcoming self-titled album encourages one to know the taste of their own shadow and to dig their way out when buried alive, as musically it leaves a strong voice echoing in the listener’s head. If any music-lover is seeking to immerse themselves in an unforgettable metal experience, “Oceans of Slumber” is well worth a listen.
Written by Peter Jerman
- Soundtrack to My Last Day
- Pray for Fire
- A Return to the Earth Below
- Imperfect Divinity
- The Adorned Fathomless Creation
- To the Sea
- The Colors of Grace
- I Mourn These Yellowed Leaves
- September (Those Who Came Before)
- Total Failure Apparatus
- The Red Flower
- Wolf Moon (Including Zoanthropic Paranoia)
- Dobber Beverly – drums, piano
- Cammie Gilbert – lead vocals
- Mat V. Aleman – keyboards
- Semir Ozerkan – bass, backing vocals
- Jessie Santos – guitars
- Alexander Lucian – guitars, backing vocals
Century Media Records