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...And Oceans' second album tries to give off the impression that it's a bigger and more mature album than The Dynamic Gallery of Thoughts. We see longer songs and electronic undertones seep into the music along with a less ridiculous and video-gamey atmosphere. You'd expect ...And Oceans to really build up to something with all of this, but they don't. Instead we are treated to some of the most painfully average symphonic black metal this band has ever produced.
The songs on this album just don't hold up well. They lack either the symphonic and atmospheric cheesy charm of this album's predecessor, or the riff-tastic industrial crunch of its successor. Sure there are good, engaging songs such as Mechanic Hippie and Baby Blue Doll, but they are by and far outmatched and outnumbered by the volume of boring clunkers ridding this album. There is also a small amount of the more majestic atmosphere from Dynamic Gallery of Thoughts all throughout this release, but it's in much more subtle doses with more mediocre elements taking prominence. The guitars pull more of the weight on this album, but with less effort and the synths are no longer soaring and catchy, but instead pushed back to make way for bloated, obtuse, overly long guitar based songs which don't even riff, but instead use the same old tremolos used by black metal musicians since time immemorial. Even the synth lines are boring, especially when they were what carried this band the most. Everything is a denser, more serious, and more boring take on what happened in Dynamic Gallery. The song titles are also ridiculous and cringe inducing. I mean, "Mechanic Hippie", "Aquarium of Children", "The Black Vagabond and the Swan of Two Heads", and last but not least "I Wish I Was Pregnant". Seriously? You turn the music into a bore yet turn your titles into a sideshow!?
I couldn't in good faith recommend this to people, It's just too interested in getting lost in uninteresting rhythms rather than actually building to anything or conveying riffs or emotion. This is the boring middle child of ...And Oceans albums, go for the Dynamic Gallery or go for AMGOD, but leave this one alone. There's not much going on here.
Being as I am not the biggest fan of black metal, I never thought to check these brilliant musicians out. Bad idea, Because all it took was one listen and I was astonished.
First, my compliments go to the power creating keyboardist Plasmarr. I was taken into a dream world by his beautiful and thought provoking playing styles. They combine in a layered fashion with the perfectly executed guitars, and there you have the aforementioned display of brutality and beauty. On the first song "Mechanic Hippie" the blasting double bass of Sami is the usual, but the layered guitars and keyboard puts you in another place for six minutes and twenty seconds of your life. But don’t worry "Mechanic Hippie" nor the entire album for that matter lack the heaviness all you traditional black metal legionnaires love.
Then now on to the vocals, Ahhhhhhhhhh, yes that occasional whine from Killstar the vocalist is a little bothersome to me, yet I can get past that thanks to the rest of the roaring blackened screams. I think that the best vox on the album are on track 2 "Aquarium Of Children", something about the blast beats and the melodies fighting back and forth while the voices are just reigning on the throne nonexistence makes me love every second of this song.Overall the album could'nt be much better, everything clicks. I love it and I give …and oceans the credit they deserve for changing my opinion on black metal. I recommend this album to metallers of every genre. Just buy the album.
This album is absolutly mind-blowing. I don't care what direction ...and Oceans take after Cypher, everything they do is phenominal, but I hope its back to something like this- anyone would.
The way the band creates this "Wall" of sound that the keyboards layer over into, and the vocals fill with slightly disturbing melody that causes you to find yourself in somewhat of a trance. This is pure aural romance in an album case.
The guitars, while building this "Wall of sound" still continue to create riffs that can change from something that makes you feel happy, to something that might make you feel like you're pondering life. The guitars alone don't actually do this, they build the base for that. To stand alone would mean nothing for them, as they generally contribute as a whole. Pieces like Aquarium Of Children show the real beauty behind the guitars- they build over the wall when the keyboards are absent for any short period of time.
The same goes for the drumming. Its done GREAT, the usage of blast beats to hold the wall together from the sides, but stand alone they sounds awesome. Going from guitar riff to guitar riff, they hold their own in forming anything from simply melody to sheer aggressive strength. No tracks can really show any pure spectacular drumming, simply because it all stays the same. It stays powerful and compelling the whole damn time, you can't just pick one best track out, but if I HAD to, it would be Solipsism.
Now the vocals, these are something else. These and the keyboards accel over the aformentioned "wall" and provide a tranquil state of mind for anyone who cares enough to hear whats going on with everything at once. They provide a sort of escape from the otherwise noise box. The vocal performance on Mechanic Hippie was just.. great. It showed almost all of You's talent in it. This man does awesome black vocals, but some people find his "whining" parts annoying, I frankly think they kind of accent in such a way like the keyboards, ergo I don't see what anyone couldn't like about I Wish I Was Pregnant.
Noise box or no noise box, the keyboards pull through somethign wicked. Definatly the highlight of this album, the keyboards hold the world of ...and Oceans together and do so in such a way that if I said they didn't, I would need to be fucking shot. The Black Vagabond features a perfect showing of the keyboards at work. It shows that they can create a deep, dark feeling within the music as well as a creepy, almost upbeat one in the same track.
Bass serves only to accent guitars where anything may be sloppy, but in any case still sound great, assuming you notice them at all.
Track by track would be worthless, every one is done almost perfectly. When you listen to this album as a whole, it creates a... dark, almost disturbing feel.
Lyrically, I believe the album to be based upon the world, the people in it, the oddities the world faces, and in a more blunt way, some of the songs come off as about discovering yourself and discovering what it is that you care about. What you feel you want from yourself and what you feel should be done to create the best environment you would want to be in, and with that you should keep peace with yourself and with those who do the same but with you. Looking deeper, you can find remnants if not the entire thing, being about a disturbed man, looking in on everything and finding himself.
I don't think I will ever find an album I love more, at least not for some time. Crisp, clear, and powerful, this can change your outlook instantly if you care to think about what is said, and how chaotic it comes off as. Done so well, I don't see a reason to not own this. If you come across it, get it. If you come across the double pack with this and this awe inspiring band's first full release, DEFINATLY pick it up even if you have ANY second thoughts. It couldn't be more worth it.
This is probably one of THE best symph-black albums ever manifested, along with Stormblast. From the minute I bought it, to the minute I d/led it just so I could listen to it anywhere, and even beyond then, this hasn't become stale.
Mechanic Hippie, Solipsism, and Acid Sex & Marble Teeth are the three standouts, although the entire album is pretty standout, in itself.
The album starts off with the strangely titled 'Mechanic Hippie', which is also most likely the best song. The symphonic nature of the album is very well done, and is showcased very well in all three songs mentioned above. Weird song titles abound, also. I Wish I Was Pregnant and Baby Blue Doll (Merry Go Mind) give the mind a taste of what to (un)expect in this very strange album. Most of the lyrics are drug-influenced, most likely, such as the lyrics to Acid Sex & Marble Teeth and The Black Vagabond And The Swan Of Two Heads. The liner notes and booklet also complement the overall oddness of the album by inserting a lot of random parenthesized comments (like "I know that I am I, if and only if I believe that I am I", and "I denied and killed him, not with scissors nor knives, but with the muscles of my inner torso"). I'm sure they mean something, and I'm sure the album has a lot to do with discovering yourself (considering all the I's used), but everything is very doped up and creepy.
As for musically, the album is very tight. The synth lace into everything nicely, and to say they "drench" the album would be an understatement. Guitars are pummeling and heavy, with hardly a riff in certain parts (but more of a wall of sound). Drums are VERY often blasting. Not just anything, either. These are fast and incredible blastbeats. It might sound unappealing, but when coupled with this "wall of sound" from the guitars, and the shrieks and cries of You (vokillist on the album), the album comes along very wonderfully. If you can find this packaged with the extra instrumental tracks (which I don't care much for) and The Dynamic Gallery Of Thoughts, and you don't buy it, you're a freak. I don't care what kind of music you like.