The Ocean - Pelagial | Review

Gripping us by the heels and dragging us from the water’s edge down through all five pelagic depth-zones with their latest epic ‘Pelagial’, German progressive metal collective The Ocean have created a turbulent yet sumptuous journey spanning 53-minutes. Envisaged as one complete conceptual composition, ‘Pelagial’ was originally recorded solely as an instrumental piece due to vocalist Loic Rossetti suffering from severe health issues. Rossetti, however, recovered in time to—along with various barbarous throats from contemporary metal—add another layer to the new record and, interestingly, The Ocean has released both versions of ‘Pelagial’ together.
Because the music was completed without Rossetti in mind, the positioning of his vocals atop what is extremely expressive music, effortlessly coasting from Opeth-ian grandiosity to churning post-metal oblivion, can, at times, sound awkward and some melodies simply do not work. Saying that, the inclusion of powerful screams during the writhing syncopations of ‘Bathyalpelagic III: Disequillibrated’ and the dreamy, clean vocals that float along with the ethereal passages of ‘Abyssopelagic II: Signals of Anxiety’ imparts a different dimension when compared to the instrumental recording, and these colourful vocal turns, amongst others, do accentuate the gripping nature of the music.
The instrumental only side on the other hand, really brings the musical nuances to the fore, as it becomes clearer that certain codas that occur early on subtly re-appear during different stages of this submersion. The intricate transitions are also much more noticeable without the vocals, as the instrumentation moves from the serene-sounding harp and piano that shimmers like the sun gleaming across a vast, unexplored vista, to the diaphanous weight of the music that pulls you deeper and deeper into the terrors of the unknown as ‘Pelagial’ progresses.
The beauty of this release is that The Ocean has given us the opportunity to explore the different facets of the two versions and decide for ourselves, and there is a multitude to discover, enjoy and contrast within both. With each passing release, The Ocean has become more renowned for meticulously dedicating time to constructing labyrinthine concepts, arranging the music and contributors, and making sure the packaging and artwork all intertwine. ‘Pelagial’ is a supreme expression of such extensive and intensive labours, and with this record The Ocean rise from the spray as one of progressive metal’s most essential.

Dean Brown 

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Dean Brown is a metal scribe based in Ireland. He is currently a contributing editor to the North American cultural magazine Popmatters and he regularly throws words for a number of other reputable loud noise publications such as metal,,,, amongst others. He has a strong affinity for music that shakes souls and leaves debilitating tinnitus in its wake and such obsession has left him financially and medically crippled, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. Follow Dean on twitter @reus85

1 comment:

  1. I don't really dig instrumental music, but I think I’ll give the instrumental version a spin first and then skip to the vocal version to see if it gets the same appeal. Great review, an entertaining and informative read!