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Album Reviews : The Ocean – Heliocentric

By on May 10, 2010

2640431The follow up to 2007’s Precambrian is part one of a double album; about the development of Christianity from the creation of the firmament in Genesis, to Darwin’s theory of evolution and Richard Dawkin’s ideas on the origin of God. The companion album, Anthropocentric is set for an October 2010 release.

Those expecting ‘Precambrian II’ or something sludgy and heavy will be disappointed. Besides a handful of metal riffs and harsh rasps from new vocalist Loic Rossetti, this is basically a post/prog rock album.

After a brief intro the band slide into “Firmament” and you may be forgiven for thinking Trent Reznor is the new vocalist. It’s a pretty catchy tune, the guitars have a nice tone and the clean vocals sound good. It drags on for one chorus too long but overall it’s a pretty solid start.

However, the third song “The First Commandment of the Luminaries” is an absolute train wreck. Rossetti’s vocals are off key and weak and there’s this light jazzy piano solo in the middle section which really sounds out of place. Jazz inclusions like this always remind of the ‘jazz odyssey’ part in Spinal Tap. “On the bass: Derek Smalls, ‘e wrote this!” and that dude in the audience is giving it the big thumbs down. This song gets both thumbs down, it’s atrocious.

From then on Heliocentric follows a slow song/rock song pattern beginning with the god awful big six and a half minute power ballad “Ptolemy Was Wrong”. Thankfully Rossetti manages to stay in key for the remainder of the album. He sounds like Chris Cornell in the first couple of verses of “Metaphysics of the Hangman” and Trent Reznor again in “Epiphany”. Actually, that song reminds me of a Nine Inch Nails song (I think maybe “The Great Below” from The Fragile) – particularly the vocal harmonies.

This all sounds very negative but there are a few shining moments. The subtle use of string and brass arrangements is excellent, the musicianship is faultless and the album finishes strongly with “The Origin of Species” and “The Origin of God”. Rossetti does have some shining moments – I like the way he delivers the lyric ‘moral cognoscentes’ in “Metaphysics of the Hangman” but sometimes he sounds like a cabaret singer, and his harsh rasps are one-dimensional.

I listen to an album eight to ten times before I write a review and now that task has been completed, I can’t see myself revisiting this album. It’s not terribly bad but I find it uninspiring and insipid, and there is too much great music around at the moment to spend time listening to this. However, I am interested to hear Anthropocentric when it is released in October. Guitarist Robin Staps has been quoted as saying it will be much heavier. 5/10

Band: The Ocean
Album: Heliocentric
Year: 2010
Genre: Progressive metal/Atmospheric sludge
Origin: Germany
Label: Metal Blade/Riot!

1. Shamayim
2. Firmament
3. The First Commandment of the Luminaries
4. Ptolemy Was Wrong
5. Metaphysics of the Hangman
6. Catharsis of a Heretic
7. Swallowed by the Earth
8. Epiphany
9. The Origin of Species
10. The Origin of God

Reviewed by Pete Williams


Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.