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"Aeolian" is the heavier twin of the 2004 release "Fluxion". Both albums were recorded in one long session, which lasted from January 2004 until July 2005, in the band's own Oceanland studio. The album was mastered by Magnus Lindberg (CULT OF LUNA) at the Tonteknik studio in Umea, Sweden. While "Fluxion" mixed the orchestral and atmospheric side of its predecessor "Fogdiver" with harsh vocals and complex metal passages, "Aeolian" develops all this fusion even further: the orchestral parts have been relegated to the background, the songs are heavier and more complex, and the arrangements are totally uncompromising. However, this is not necessarily the direction in which the band is headed, but a result of the choice of songs on offer - THE OCEAN won't move away from their epic orchestrations. In fact, on "Aeolian" the band wanted to experiment how a reduction to the classic line-up of guitar/bass/drums/vocals would work in the context of THE OCEAN. What came out is a dense, brutal album without unnecessary decorations, aiming straight for the throat. Despite its heaviness, "Aeolian" is more accessible than the previous album, which might be due to the fact that the unavoidable monotony of "hard" vocals has been broken up by using a number of different voices. There are 6 singers on the album altogether, covering the entire spectrum of aggressive vocals. Guest vocalists include Tomas Hallbom of BREACH, Nate Newton of CONVERGE / OLD MAN GLOOM and the former COALESCE frontman Sean Ingram. Tomas Hallbom, who guests on 5 tracks, also appeared on stage with the band at selected shows last April, during which a few BREACH songs were covered. BREACH is one of THE OCEAN's main influences. Sean Ingram recorded the song "Queen Of The Food-Chain", having the following to say about his participation: "if my rough takes at home are any indication, this will be my favourite guest appearance yet".
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For one thing, The Ocean "Collective" avoids the pitfall of one-dimensional vocals by using several vocalists. On _Aeolian_, the band hired seven - that's right, SEVEN - vocalists, each specializing in their own particular style. This lineup really emphasizes the variety of styles which often go into metal vocals, and makes for some seriously extreme music.
Lumbering riffs in the vein of Mastodon are melded perfectly with Meshuggah-like technical structures. Sweeping melodies of Pelican-like minimalist guitar riffs make, well, ocean-like waves. Occasional breakdowns into ambient samples, synthesize, and quieter instrumentation finely complement, as well as emphasize, the band's typical "wall of heaviness," which often comes right back with a BOOM.
Despite the unrelentingly heavy nature of the music, The Ocean are not without humor (there's a song called "Necrobabes.com" - enough said). The aforementioned vocalists are credited with, respectively, "meaty howls," "high-pitched shrieking," "Scandinavian hollering," "deep bellowing," "raucous vociferation," "sappy squalling," and "flagrant yelling." And when they're not talking about the ocean or brutal death, the lyrics sometimes get pretty funny too.
On a separate topic, the artwork to this album is downright stunning; while very similar to Mastodon's _Leviathan_, it is still very alluring, with gold lettering and gorgeous, sea-themed illustrations. Okay, so maybe it IS a blatant rip-off of _Leviathan_, but it's still good.
The Ocean is definitely a band to take notice of, especially if you're a fan of Mastodon, Pelican, and Meshuggah, and to a lesser degree, early ISIS and Neurosis. Also be sure to check out their other full-length, _Fluxion_.
Get ready to have your face melted clean off by the extreme metallic power of The Ocean. I've just recently discovered this band, and I'm glad that I did. Brutal, brutal, brutal stuff, not for the weak of heart. The Ocean adds an element of brilliance to their relentless metal attacks with majestic symphonic sections, although there are not too many of those on this album, which is mainly straighforward heaviness and brutality (I have a feeling I will be using the word brutal in this review quite a bit). The Ocean is more than a band; they refer to themselves as the "Collective," and rightly so, as there are seven different vocalists on this album alone, with vocal stylings that range from "meaty howls" to "Scandinavian hollering" to "plangent yelling." Yes, these guys are crazy.
Aeolian starts with a smack in the face with "The City In the Sea," a chaotic rendition of an Edgar Allan Poe work that would probably even have the antiquated godfather of horror shaking in his boots. Then comes "Dead Serious & Highly Professional." Musically, the song is good, but it loses points from me for the wacky gore lyrics. Sure, some people do not mind gore lyrics, but after the majestic Poe retooling, it does not seem like lyrics about rape and beastiality quite fit in. On the other hand, it shows that the Collective holds nothing sacred, and holds nothing back. Gore does continue to pervade the album, most blatantly in the odd "Necrobabes.com," another song I could probably do without, based on the title alone. But brutal songs like "Austerity," "Swoon," and the epics "Queen of the Food-chain" and "Inertia" show good horror-filled song-writing complimented by good heavy music, and just a touch of symphonics. "Killing the Flies" would definitely have to be the album highlight. The ominous opening riff rings through your ears like the bells of hell, and the complex nature of the song on a whole combined with the heaviness is enough to make your head twist right off. A loud ringing (that might just be your ears...sometimes it's hard to tell) ends the songs and starts "Une Saison En Enfer," which follows logically from the previous song, extending the highlight section of the album even more. The eerie guitar-drum combo around the 2:20 mark starts a section that extends to about 3:30 during which you just can't help but headbang furiously. But then, why stop (or start) there? And talk about climatic...the album rocks you right to the end, with the last minute of "Inertia" probably being the most brutal part of the album.
Aeolian is the continuation of the previous album Fluxion, and I had just about gotten over the brutality of THAT album before I started listening to Aeolian. I cannot really say that I prefer one to the other, though Fluxion seems to have more of those symphonic moments that I enjoy so much, and Aeolian is more straightforward. I suppose I could say that Fluxion is my personal favorite, but that is not to discredit the new album by any means. You really should get this album if you are a fan of ballsy extreme metal bands, because The Ocean is about as heavy as it gets.
The singers Tomas Hallbom (Breach), Nate Newton (Converge/Old Man Gloom) e Sean Ingram (Coalesce) participated in this album.