Oceans of Night – Domain

The second album by Scotts Mosher and Oliva represents a distinct shift towards the artsier side of metal. With ‘The Shadowheart Mirror’, Oceans Of Night introduced themselves with a debut album that screamed all things ‘melodic’. While it was very impressive in terms of songwriting, I found that the band did not live up to the ‘ambient prog metal’ label they pitched themselves with. Now, their sophomore ‘Domain’ sees Oceans Of Night amping up their ambition, and finally creating a more distinct sound for themselves. Like so many second albums by artists though, in maturing their sound, they have lost some of the charm that drew me towards the debut.

To say that ‘Domain’ is a step above ‘Shadowheart’ would be only half-true. In many ways, Oceans Of Night have created a more challenging, denser work here. On the other hand, as ambitious as ‘Domain’ is, its the melodies and memorable songwriting that have been hit the hardest. With a seventeen minute track opening up the album, it’s instantly clear that Oceans Of Night have configured their priorities, and in doing so, they have had to let some good things go. Ultimately, the more forward-thinking approach here is to the band’s credit. Though there is a much greater emphasis on progressive atmosphere, the quality of the music itself has not been much improved. It’s as if they have bought a bigger fish tank, without buying more fishies to warrant the purchase.

Of the two Scotts, Mosher handles the music, while Oliva lends his vocals. While Oliva’s classic metal singing was the musical highlight of ‘Shadowheart’, here his vocals are a little more reserved. Although not as impressive at first, it’s a natural change that goes well with the new musical direction Oceans Of Night is going for here. The new star of the show are Mosher’s spacey keyboards. This is where the ‘ambient’ aspect of Oceans’ sound comes through. They sound much like the sort of keyboards that Geddy Lee used on Rush’s ‘Moving Pictures’, and they work well to create a futuristic vibe for the music. In terms of the metal, Oceans Of Night’s production has enjoyed some improvements in regards to the once-garbled rhythm guitars, but the sound still feels a bit flat. Mosher’s lead guitar work is beautiful, but as a whole, I prefer ‘Shadowheart’s upfront catchiness to this more reserved approach. Both of Oceans Of Night’s albums to date are about the same in terms of quality, but they achieve that quality through very different outlets. Where the debut was enjoyable for its melody and songwriting, ‘Domain’ is intriguing for its ambition and vast atmosphere. I’m not completely sold on either album, but it will be very interesting to see where they go next with it.

Tracklist:

1. Domain (17:27)
2. Don’t Look To Me (5:10)
3. So Near Yet So Far (5:25)
4. Dreams In Artificial Sunlight (3:32)
5. Divisions Of Time (5:16)
6. Seven Days Of Rain (6:11)
7. The View To You (8:27)
8. Instruments Of Fear (4:14)
9. The Future Remembered (4:18)
10. Ghosts Of The Past (4:24)

Line-up:

* Scott Mosher – guitars, bass, keyboards
* Scott Oliva – vocals
* Alan Smithee – drums, percussion

Links:

http://www.oceansofnight.com/

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