posted on 10/2004 By:
I sought out The Ocean's FluXion after hearing that the band's sound combined elements of Isis and Neurosis with the heavier edge of a band like Mastodon. In many ways that description fits, although it leaves out some key elements. It also turns out to be a comparison with which the band would disagree. The eight member German band The Ocean (also sometimes known as The Ocean Collective) prefers to describe their sound as heavily influenced by a long and diverse group of surrealists including artitsts in contemporary metal and alternative, composers, and film makers, and further claim that the band works to disasociate themselves from these influences. FluXion, the follow up to 2003's Fogdiver, mixes the layered sonic landscapes and slow building tempos (Neurosis, Isis, and Cult of Luna) with periods of aggressive metal and hardcore. However, the more interesting and unusual aspect of FluXion is the dense orchestral atmosphere that gives much of the album a film score feeling. In fact, I would say this combination Rachels by way of Danny Elfman and David Lynch influence is as strong as the earlier made comparisons, and also better captures the band’s strengths.
The longer, multidimensional tracks on FluXion, such as “The Greatest Bane”, “Isla Del Sol”, and “The Human Stain” are ultimately the most satisfying, giving the band ample room to incorporate moments of all of the earlier mentioned aspects of their sound. “The Human Stain” also includes a lengthy orchestral middle eastern passage, a trick they repeat in smaller portions from time to time on other tracks. The orchestral arrangements are prominent, and The Ocean enlisted the help of a full orchestra on FluXion, including eight violins, five cellos, clarinets, flutes, and kettledrums. In contrast, nearly all the vocals occur during the heavy sections of the music, and these sections are both heavier and more frequent than the recent work of the other prominent bands in the genre. However, for such dynamic and dense material, it is a bit disappointing that the band doesn’t get more for their money in terms of payoff in intense transitions. There just doesn’t seem to be many climactic moments on the album, which is surprising considering the style and arrangements of the songs. Granted, this is more a complaint of untapped potential than a dislike of the album.
Robin Staps’ production is absolutely top class, maximizing the band’s lush sound and multi-instrumental approach. Likewise, the packaging is eye catching, containing optical effects and cool artwork. Both impressive for a young band on an indie label. The band had a ton of time in the studio for this album, and apparently recorded enough material for a follow up, scheduled for release sometime early next year.
Overall, FluXion is a very solid effort, both delivering now and including promise for the future. Check out the mp3 samples on the band’s site and decide for yourself. They may not be quite ready to stand shoulder to shoulder amongst bands like Neurosis and Isis, but FluXion is most definitely worth looking into. I'll be keeping an eye on these guys.
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