Release DetailsLABEL Century Media
RELEASED ON 9/3/2002
posted on 8/2002 By:
This is my first experience with And Oceans. The album "Cypher" is a black-industrial sounding album, which features some electronic drumbeats/samples and a wealth of ambient sounding synthesizer melodies and effects. Some of "Cypher" has a techno inspired flavor, which didn't sit well with me. Give me more metal and less Trent Reznor. Let's start with the drums. I'm equally mixed on the drums. Overall the drumming and the sound of the kit is good. Heavy, but often still a touch on the weak side of the spectrum. Both in terms of the actual sound of the kit and the drumming itself. I thought the snare drum needed more attack and breathing room. Upon listening I gathered that, other than the hi-hat, the high frequencies of the drums had been rolled off quite a bit. I felt that this contributed to hiding the true power of the kit. Compound this with a sometimes over bearing hi-hat and you go from an exceptional drum sound to a good drum sound. The drumming is solid though and does carry a low-end power that's impressive (aren't triggers wonderful?!), but it's still a bit on the simplistic side. The drumming is precise and to the point, but it could do for some aggressive flair. Ya know, "I'm gonna steam roll your brain and this kit all at the same time" kind of aggressive flair. I may be a bit critical on that, after all, the album does sound really good and shouldn't stop you from picking it up. But, compared to the greats in the metal world, the drumming doesn't quite hold up. I would characterize the vocals as usually a low pitched rasp with an occasional hint of Kreator and Carcass sounding phrases. While the vocals certainly fit the part and often carry the music, at times they can become too stagnant and just plain expendable. Other times they're as cool as they possibly could be. Especially the occasional rising pitch in vocals, which gives a great contrast against the heavy, low end feel of this album. I also like the slight variations in singing styles within the same song. It really adds a nice multi-dimensional touch. Let me re-phrase that metal style; The vocals drag and grind your soul in the dirt and occasionally spits it in the air, only to be slammed down and dragged in the dirt again. The songs are well written for the most part. A good mixture of blackened heaviness, corrosive industrial and melodic symphonic sounds. The symphonic sounds add a sometimes soothing, sometimes trace like quality to the album. Although I'm not a particular fan of the techno inspired portions of the album. The guitars carry a heavy sound and boast some powerful heavy metal riffs. Often times altering between a tight, chunky and muted pattern on the strings to a flowing and open riff. It was this contrast that made some songs heavy enough to pull you into it's realm. The bass guitar seems to follow closely with the rhythm guitar, only to occasionally ride the metallic sounding low string along with the drums. A cool album for sure. It made me think of the musical approach that Celtic Frost had with "Into the Pandemonium", just with a modern flare. There's room for improvement, but the concepts and depth of this album will speak for themselves. I did find a downside with the heavy reliance on samples, versus letting the music flow from the body in more pure form. It may tarnish my rating a bit, but it doesn't tarnish the fact that this album is a piece of artwork. Artwork can be too conceptual, even to the point of eliminating the human expression behind it. If And Oceans were to focus more on the human elements, they could have a future masterpiece.
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