The Ocean – Pelagial (2013)


Robin Staps and company return with another impressive and monumental 53-minute concept album that is intended to be played as one whole piece. In “Pelagial”, the bands ambitions are high than ever with an album that nicely builds up in momentum, just as the layers of the ocean are entered in a voyage to the sea floor. The Ocean are famous for their highly complex and multi-layered releases and this one is not an exception, keeping things very intricate and beautifully arranged for all fans to be blown away since the opening song.

“Pelagial” was also originally intended to be mainly an instrumental release, and it is provided as both in the regular version of the album, so we will go back and forth in how the tracks feel different and transmit different feelings both with lyrics and without them. Opening with the very relaxed and dreamy “Epipelagic”, one even feels a certain sense of relief with this lush and simple track. Things start getting a bit more ‘heavier’ as the voyage continues going deeper and with “Mesopelagic – The Uncanny” we get the first taste of heavy guitars and the combination of clean and harsh vocals. We do think this track works a lot better on the instrumental version since it sounds cleaner and sets the mood a bit better.

The journey continues with the three piece “Bathypelagic” layer. The first song provides some nice string arrangements that we have grown accustomed from The Ocean’s compositions and they are perfectly offset by intricate riffs. While Loïc Rossetti‘s growls are awesome, some of the clean vocals in this release are not the best and sound a bit weird when paired with such majestic compositions. Out of this trilogy of songs, our favorite one is the second one, the super catchy “The Wish in Dreams”. This track features very cool riffs and a sheer guitar power that immediately represent the escalation of moods in this release. We also prefer the instrumental version of the track, but the vocals on the regular version are pretty solid.

Moving on to the two “Abyssopelagic” tracks, the band goes further down the ocean layers with two very well crafted tracks that have some of their traditional string/orchestral elements creating very atmospheric passages. We particularly like that they reduced outside elements a bit on this release since it allows the core of the music to transmit the message more directly. The second track of this “Abyssopelagic” layer: “Signals of Anxiety” is one of our favorite tracks in this release thanks to the emotional melodic passages that really shine when the vocals are not present.

As we arrive to the “Hadopelagic" layer, we get two tracks that are quite hypnotic and greatly follow the overall momentum of the release. On the short instrumental “Omen of the Deep”, the band lays the groundwork for our favorite track “Let them Believe”. For this song we actually preferred the version with vocals since it feels more complete and we think it does a better job transmitting the mood than just an instrumental. Just before the journey comes to an end “Demersal – Cognitive Dissonance” is one of the heaviest tracks in this release, and it is definitely worth the wait for it. The closer “Benthic – The Origin of Our Wishes” nicely leaves on a very thick and heavy note, marking down the arrival at the deepest layer of the ocean, where the pressure is just incredible, a feeling that is quite well captured by the band on this track.

Overall, we have to say that The Ocean is one of the most intriguing bands since they write very conceptual music that needs more than a few dozens of listens before you can really start noticing all the complex elements on them. “Pelagial” is indeed a very ambitious undertaking and the band nicely pulls it off with their excellent abilities and brilliant song-writing skills. We do have to say that the instrumental version of the album is quite superior, but it is fun to have the version with vocals so you really notice how much your attention strays from the music when you have a voice to follow instead. If you are a fan of The Ocean, this is a totally recommendable release, so better get yours today.

Band: The Ocean Album: Pelagial
Label: Metal Blade Records

Release: April 30th, 2013

Oficial Site myspace

Genre: Progressive Extreme Metal

Country: Germany / Switzerland

Rating: 90/100

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