Release DetailsLABEL Metal Blade Records
RELEASED ON 11/27/2007
posted on 12/2007 By:
Organized according to geological time, The Ocean’s ambitious third full-length Precambrian is a monster of an album that spans 84 minutes and unfolds over the course of two discs. The first is the heavy-handed Hadean/Archaean, the shorter of the two at about 22 minutes even, while Proterozoic, though certainly containing aggressive bursts during its approximate 62 minutes, also offers the lighter side of the spectrum. And for those of you who haven’t explored the music of this German collective, Precambrian is an unabashed triumph that easily trumps all previous endeavors.
As outlined above, H/A is the heavier offering here, and avoids dawdling by launching directly into “Hadean / The Long March of the Yes-Men” – a keyboard-rich attack laced with loose, gravelly growls and The Ocean’s signature riffs and tumbling rhythms. Often grouped in with Georgians Mastodon, it’s “Eoarchaean / The Great Void” that parallels them most via roller coaster peaks and valleys, similar tones, and convincing instrumental sections. While “Palaeoarchaean / Man and the Sea” is fast with a hardcore punk-like tempo, the groove-oriented follower “Mesoarchaean / Legions of Winged Octopi” is the true crusher of the bunch, even rivaling “The City in the Sea” from the 2005 affair Aeolian, but “Neoarchaean / To Burn the Duck of Doubt” also momentarily sets itself apart with its optimistic, Pelican-esque melodies.
Noticeably mellower from the get-go – due primarily to instrumental, sax-laden intro “Siderian” – Proterozoic again lends credence to the Neur-Isis comparisons that The Ocean have garnered since their 2004 debut long-player FluXion. “Rhyacian / Untimely Meditations” provides the first real taste of clean vocals, along with piano, glockenspiel, and orchestral instruments such as the viola, violin, and cello during its lax opening and laidback portions, but soon the growls take the helm before stepping into the background, albeit not for good as the latter part has its share of earth-shattering moments. “Orosirian / For the Great Blue Cold Now Reigns” is when and where the Neurosis, Isis, and Cult of Luna-isms rear their heads, and the crashing waves prove this assertion repeatedly as they do elsewhere. “Statherian,” however, is a regal instrumental that eventually crescendos into an impressive romp replete with soundclips, layered melodies, and a medieval close. Also vocal-free is the ninth and final track “Cryogenian.” Proterozoic’s middle, consisting of “Calymmian / Lake Disappointment,” doomy dirge “Ecstasian / De Profundis,” and “Stenian / Mount Sorrow” also employ the drifting/crashing dichotomy found in likeminded mobs, but is no less arresting than the surrounding material. In fact, even the tail end, comprised of “Tonian / Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” and classical-influenced outro “Cryogenian,” holds its own among stellar company.
Not only are there two discs, but there are separate booklets that correspond to each. While the two discs are categorized by eons, the songs are divided into sections based on eras, and the songs themselves are named after periods, except for those of the first disc, which are named after eras, too. Does this make it difficult to recall their titles and/or give a fuck about them in the first place? Frankly, yes. However, every track has a second, non-geological name that appears in the liner notes, also listed above, but not on the tray insert, so there’s hope yet for those who want to memorize the titles to yell them out during The Ocean’s shows. In addition, another flaw is that of double disc releases in general – one CD will take usually take precedence over the other. I’m not convinced that they couldn’t have shaved a few minutes here and there to condense the material so that it’d fit on a single, rotund piece of plastic, because, to be honest, Precambrian isn’t the most fluid album anyway.
Regardless, this is by and large The Ocean’s finest hour in spite of its minuscule weaknesses. In line with the TO MO, there are guest appearances from the likes of Dwid Hellion (Integrity), Eric Kalsbeek (Textures), Nate Newton (Converge, Doomriders), Caleb Scofield (Cave In, Old Man Gloom, Zozobra), and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, obviously excluding the mass of other contributors, making Precambrian all the more alluring. Thankfully, there’s a wealth of information on the band’s official website, so if you’re looking for more, that’s the place to visit. Otherwise, all you need to know is that this rocks hard, and is one of the best albums of 2007.
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