In December 2015, the Houston, Texas group Oceans of Slumber closed the year with their new single “Winter.” 2015 also saw the band’s ‘Blue EP’ which re-imagined classic songs from legends such as Led Zeppelin, Candlemass and Pink Floyd. However, the high points of the EP were found in the bands original material. With ‘Blue’ acting as a mediator between two albums, Oceans of Slumber begin the new year gearing up for another release: their second full-length album also titled ‘Winter.’
The band have said that ‘Winter’ is a concept record based around themes of woe and despair, and past tracks such as “Turpentine” have proved that this is an area Oceans of Slumber are very comfortable in, both in covering classics and one they have a niche for writing also. Throughout the record, the eerie and blues style vocals of Cammie Gilbert sway through tracks such as ‘Lullaby’ and ‘Laid To Rest,’ in whatever form they take. Whether it be floating on the subtle and at times gentle guitars of Anthony Contreras or matching the aggressive vocals of Sean Gary with a jazzy defense, the ever growing maturity in the bands songwriting is blatantly evident. It is a true rarity but a pleasure to find a band were the members playing intertwines so effortlessly that it becomes the listening equivalent to watching a beautifully choreographed dance. That is not to say that there aren’t moments of spontaneity to be found either. There certainly are, particularly in the more aggressive moments of the record on tracks such as ‘Winter.’
The title track ‘Winter’ was certainly the right song to release as a single to represent the album as it covers most of what this album is all about. It’s sombre, aggressive, both quick to the punch whilst long winded and broody. It is all the things a good journey is made up of. Is there a feeling of woe and despair to be found here? Sure, no one ever said this record was for the faint of heart. But it is not the tense and clustered place this description may depict. These themes are where Oceans of Slumber find their resting place musically and they have a real talent (one of many) for making it a comfortable place for the listener. So take the chance that comes with the invitation and allow Oceans of Slumber take you to where you are least comfortable. Then sit back, listen and let them transform that place into something else. A truly memorable listening experience.