posted on 3/2009 By:
Like it or not, the Earache debut from Chicago's Oceano is a pretty accurate snapshot of where death metal is currently at. To the deathcore haters, you might as well shuffle on now. As one who actually derives enjoyment from this distinctly noughties take on brutal death, Oceano are further reason for me to embrace the style and for a bunch of upstarts, what they’ve accomplished on Depths is very impressive on a number of levels. If this is deathcore, then it’s evidence that the style is evolving and maturing. In fact while it certainly bears all the hallmarks of the oft maligned genre, there’s a fair bit more here than cynics might expect.
Superficially, Depths sounds an awful lot like Whitechapel’s latest. From the ultra-low tunings and production to the vocal style and dissonant grooves, it’s clear that Oceano enjoyed more than a few things about This Is Exile. What they’ve done however is taken all these traits of modern-day death and expanded them, resulting in a more sophisticated, layered and dare I say grown-up take on deathcore. While the thirteen songs on Depths have been conceived with maximum heaviness in mind first and foremost, they’ve been executed with an ear for melody and dynamics that you’d normally have to go outside the strict confines of brutal death metal to enjoy. Nowhere is this better illustrated than on the title track. The underlying rhythm is as bottom-heavy as ever but here it merely forms the base for a shimmering, hauntingly melodic six-minute piece sans vocals. It’s a great showcase indeed for the band’s musical chops, in particular the shredding talent of guitarists Andrew and Jeremy (the latter having since departed) which shine through some effective, atmospheric soloing.
Another big plus with Oceano is how they’ve largely avoided structural repetition and cheap breakdowns in these songs. As a result, Depths not only stands up to, but actually warrants repeat spins. And as the songwriting is so even throughout, picking out standout tracks is somewhat difficult. If I really have to though, I’ll give special mention to the Nile-esque bombast which opens “With Legions…” as well as the irresistible groove of “Slaughtered Like Swine.” It’s obviously early days for Oceano and while they’re yet to develop a distinctive presence or personality that would elevate them into excellence, Depths is still an accomplished debut and one of the stronger death offerings so far in 2009.
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