REVIEW: OCEANS OF SLUMBER – “Oceans Of Slumber”
Sometimes, things need to be broken. For Oceans of Slumber, breaking down insidious cycles within our societies, as well as those beneath our own skin, is not a luxury but a necessity. A sentiment captured on their new self-titled record, set for release September 4th through Century Media Records; the fourth studio album for the Texas-based, Progressive Metal sextet. Acknowledging, and exploring, a cascade of emotional vulnerabilities, this latest offering seeks hope for the hopeless through a powerful demonstration of southern darkness.
Only once in a blue moon do we find vocalists who marry technical proficiency with a great heart like Cammie Gilbert, who gives her entire self to every lyric and note. Evident on the albums leading single “A Return to Earth Below” which captures the turmoil and relief found at the moment when we stop running from pain, the truth, and ourselves. Once again, Gilbert runs to nowhere as she stands and confronts some of her own truths on the confessional “A Return to Earth Below”. A song that sees this extraordinary vocalist merely warming up for the rest of this thought-provoking album. For it can be an exciting and yet still unnerving thing when music penetrates that part of you that needs it. Even when we invite it, somehow it still catches us off guard. There are more than a few such moments on this record. And when you come to one, it feels like someone crawled inside your head and moved all the furniture around.
On arresting tracks such as the soothingly melodic “To the Sea”, Gilbert’s voice draws you in like a warm current, inviting you to walk with her into the water. A trait found again in, arguably, the records crowning moment, “Pray for Fire.” Here drummer, producer, and songwriter-in-chief, Dobber Beverly, has crafted a passionate, yet soberingly good composition, embodying the same thunderous characteristics in his performance. Tricky to determine when he is going to hit, but when he does it is undeniable. As the tender, intro guitars float across the opening moments, courtesy of new members Jessie Santos and Alexander Lucian, the song soon finds a life of its own as Gilbert’s vocals dance around some stirring progressions. Even purely instrumental moments succeed in immersing the listener. Such as “Imperfect Divinity”, which sees keyboard player Mat Aleman, newly recruited bassist Semir Ozeran and Beverly continue to create memorable moments you simply want to lose yourself in.
When Oceans of Slumber released “The Banished Heart” in early 2018, it was frequently hailed as the Progressive Metal album of the year. Their upcoming release may very well take that title in 2020, also. Oceans of Slumber are still relatively young with a veteran appeal. Guided by a sometimes painful honesty, they are not restricted by time or topic and aren’t afraid to venture where angels fear to tread. Thematically, their upcoming, self-titled album encourages one to know the taste of their own shadow. To dig their way out when buried alive, as Oceans of Slumber do on this record. Musically it leaves a strong voice echoing in our head. One that soothes, shouts, soars, and whispers, helping us shatter some of those things that need to be broken.