The Ocean

Anthropocentric

Written by: AP on 09/01/2011 19:47:20

The second instalment in The Ocean's ambitious project tackling religion and existence, "Anthropocentric" is the far more aggressive contrarian-style counterpoint to "Heliocentric". Where the latter seeks to understand, the former is a literary-backed challenge of viewpoints and concepts related to creationism and fundamentalism that is reflected not only in lyrical content, but in tone and voraciousness as well. As such, it is the aural iconoclast for the sprawling peaceful ascension of "Heliocentric" - the proverbial antagonist to its protagonist.

Like its companion, "Anthropocentric" finds the band dabbling in a number of musical styles, albeit ones of a far heavier disposition. That isn't to say that this album is without its departures though, as the female vocal led journey through electronica in "The Grand Inquisitor III: A Tiny Grain of Faith" and the entangled, warm acoustics of "While Zum Untergang" could give both Portishead and dredg a run for their money. Still, intricacy and convergence remain The Ocean's key defining traits, and the balance of haunting, often string-laden melodies and chuggy hostile intent is as mentally stimulating as it is cathartic; density and adventure remaining its defining characteristics. In discussing such volatile matters though, The Ocean do have a tendency to cloud their momentum while attempting to assign credit for their arguments. This is not offputting as such - it simply means that it takes patience and attention to detail to digest "Anthropocentric" - but for casual listeners it is not. In order to fully appreciate the wealth of layered instrumentation and assaulting vocals, one needs to continuously relate the abundant polyrhythms, melodies and moments of chaotic noise to the underlying concept - only then will the huge soundscapes begin to make sense.

Few bands have the grace and musical dexterity to tackle this many genres and mesh them in such a hulking sonic organism, and as such, The Ocean have few contemporaries. Sure, the likes of Devil Sold His Soul and Rinoa have made stabs at the band's creative genius, but none have managed to replicate the diversity that The Ocean are able to pack into just one song. Often beginning with the simplest of sounds, the songs can be likened to a soundtrack to evolution itself - a not at all out-of-place metaphor considering the conceptual nature of the album. But while it and "Heliocentric" are intended as an intertwined experience, "Anthropocentric" is the slightly weaker album - as sequels often are - as it unearths little new from The Ocean's vast repertoire of brilliance, sounding much like "Precambrian". Still, it is the mark of an exceptional band that future generations will look upon with envy.

8

Download: Anthropocentric, The Grand Inquisitor I: Karamazov Baseness, She was the Universe, Heaven TV
For the fans of: Burst, Intronaut, Isis, Neurosis
Listen: Myspace

Release date 22.11.2010
Metal Blade

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