With 2007′s ‘Precambrian’, German post-metal group The Ocean (also known as Ocean Collective) came out with a two disc concept epic concerning nothing less than the turbulent creation of the planet Earth. To follow up something so vast, 2010 witnessed the band now releasing two companion albums, each dealing with such topics as the creation of man, the idea of god, and religion. Suffice to say, The Ocean are never short of ambition in the projects they choose to take. While the critique of religion and faith is as ripe a concept as any for a metal album, ‘Heliocentric’ did end up being a bit of a disappointment. Luckily, the second installment in this chapter of The Ocean turned out to be quite a return to power for the band. With ‘Anthropocentric’, The Ocean releases one of their most potent efforts yet, with a concept and lyrical content as profound and fiery as the music it is driven by.
When speaking of the sound of this album, there is definitely a more conventional melodic sense here (like ‘Heliocentric’) than there used to be, in no small part due to the addition of new vocalist Loïc Rossetti, whose clean singing is featured quite prominently here. However, unlike ‘Heliocentric’, very little of the heaviness and experimentation is relinquished, and there is a very good balance between the heavier vocals and lighter melodic singing. With many of the songs, the clean vocals make some pretty catchy and memorable hooks, but luckily don’t feel superficial by doing so.
The title track leads off the album in full force; a nine minute episode of sludgy heaviness, mixed with rhythmic experimentation. While the track begins in a very typical, atonal style for The Ocean, the differences and developments start to be heard when the clean vocals come in, three and a half minutes into the album. In direct contrast to the brute growls, the vocals are often beautifully harmonized, although some of the more stylized singing of Loïc Rossetti can get a tad nasal at times. At least as far as the first track is concerned, the highlights reside in the beautiful mellower moments, where The Ocean gets to properly show their new grasp for great melodies.
Another highlight of the album is the single-worthy ‘She Was The Universe’, which is a memorable powerhouse from start to finish, despite being highly rhythmically irregular. Along with many of the songs here, the chorus is kept quite melodic. Other noteworthy songs include ‘The Grand Inquisitor III’, which is the most ‘out there’ track on ‘Anthropocentric’- an electronic trip-hop acid tweak of an interlude- and ‘Willie Zum Untergang’, a very post-rockish track that showcases the band’s more ethereal nature. The only song here that isn’t excellent is ‘Sewers Of The Soul’, which keeps a relatively up- tempo, rock vibe without showing the same compositional complexity and intricacy of the rest of the album.
Lyrically, the material here is bound to cause some controversy, especially among the more religiously-inclined listeners. As was true with ‘Heliocentric’, ‘Anthropocentric’ is a harsh, to- the-point critique of Christian fundamentalism and hypocrisy. Philosophical opinions aside, the subject matter is intregated well into a sort of intellectual and thought-provoking poetry that’s sure to stir up some debate amongst metalheads.
‘Anthropocentric’ may very well be a rival of ‘Precambrian’ for The Ocean’s greatest work to date. Despite having one or two songs that feel a bit less inspired than the rest, ‘Anthropocentric’ is a true definition of the ‘thinking man’s metal’; highly complex and frenetic sludge metal, mixed with a truly ambitious scope. An imperfect album, but The Ocean’s mastery of aesthetic and innovation is readily evident in spades.
1. Anthropocentric (9:24)
2. The Grand Inquisitor I: Karamazov baseness (5:02)
3. She Was The Universe (5:39)
4. For He That Wavereth. (2:06)
5. The Grand Inquisitor II: Roots & Locusts (6:33)
6. The Grand Inquisitor III: A Tiny Grain of Faith (1:55)
7. Sewers Of The Soul (3:44)
8. Wille Zum Untergang (6:02)
9. Heaven TV (5:03)
10. The Almightiness Contradiction (4:34)
* Luc Hess – drums
* Louis Jucker – bass
* Loïc Rossetti – vocals
* Jonathan Nido – guitar
* Robin Staps – guitar