Underwater Prehistoric Leviathan
I could be listening to The Ocean's new album 'Precambrian' for months and still not appreciate every aspect of its musical journey. The album is composed of a mini-CD entitled 'Hadean/Archaean' and a full length disc called 'Proterzoic/'. Each album refers to the geographical eons within the 'Precambrian' (early evolution of the earth) with the song-titles carrying the names of the subordinate geological periods. The concept and album artwork (which is stunning and looks expensive) evolve around the early days of this planet when mother earth was a hostile and uninhabitable place reigned with fire, sulphur and glowing hot lava (I'd like to see The Arctic Monkeys come up with something like this).
It sounds like heavy stuff and believe me when I say it's perhaps the most involved album I've heard for a long time, in fact ever, because I can't think of another album that has taken some much time to digest. In the band's own words 'It is an album for people who still believe in the idea that an album can be more, and should be more, than the sum of its tracks'. The Ocean have created such an album, because 'Precambrian' is multi layered, experimental, progressive, diverse and heavy as fuck.
Even after a couple of listens you don't entirely understand what you're listening to, but you get the sense that you're listening to some really good. Because of this you listen a little more, and then a little more and before long you're hanging off every string, every tambourine, every glockenspiel and every down-tuned heart-pounding guitar riff. The song writing rule book has not only been thrown away, it's been sacrificed to Neptune as you are bludgeoned with ultra heavy passages of music. These are sonic offerings that contrast both the dark side of the soul and the light relief. It is utterly compelling as well as jaw dropping as the listener wallows in the progressive silt and overall complexity of the music.
Although not completely comparable with any specific band, the band is stylistically close to Opeth in many respects. Whereas Opeth derive their blueprint from death metal, The Ocean use metalcore as their building blocks. For those disagreeing with me now, when The Ocean is in bulldozing mode the vocals are distinctly metalcore. But this album is so much more than this sub-genre. 'Orosirian' beats the ears for three minutes before breaking into a mellow section complete with strings and female accompaniment. This is somewhat indicative of the album as a whole. You don't know which way the music is going to turn. It's wonderful stuff, fascinating almost, and it's all complemented with a production that is nothing short of perfect.
Beware, 'Precambrian,' as a listen, is as difficult as they come. I've had this album for over two weeks, and while it's rarely been out of my stereo, I still feel I've yet to get everything from it. This could be the album's downfall because it's as far as you can get from the three-minute generation. If you can find the patience to spin it several times, and if you like your music truly heavy but are looking for something a little more interesting, then I suggest you check out this release. It certainly is greater than the sum of its tracks, in fact I would go as far as saying that it's a huge underwater prehistoric leviathan.