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Album Review: The Ocean - Pelagial

24 April 2013 | 11:00 am | Lochlan Watt

Pelagic is a cinematic spectacle that represents The Ocean at an undoubtedly unique and masterfully original musical summit.

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European progressive/post-metal juggernauts The Ocean have explored vast amounts of territory both musical and thematic in their 13-year history. Fluxion (2004) and Aeolian (2006) – two sister albums recorded simultaneously – show the band's softer and more brutal sides, backed with lyrics borrowed from history's greatest poets and philosophers. Double album Precambrian (2007) musically follows the geological formation of the earth. 2010 gave us Heliocentric and Anthropocentric – another pair of sister albums that critique Christianity from differing angles. With such ambition scaled from so early on, it was hard to envision where The Ocean could go next.

2013 has given us Pelagial, a concept album literally about the ocean. A continuous piece of music from start to finish, the 53 minutes take the listener from the post-rock vibes of the epipelagic zone, through the noodling guitars and blast beats of the bathypelagic zone, the melancholic ballads of the hadopelagic zone, right down to the darkest doom metal depths of the benthic zone. A vocal element was eventually added to the picture, with the lyrics based on Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky's 1979 cult psychological sci-fi film Stalker. The result is two simultaneous journeys: one into the physical extremes of the earth's most uncharted territory, and another into the psychological depths of disenchanted men questing to realise their secret desires.

Pelagial is a highly colourful album that rewards the listener on repeated listens. The 11 pieces create a whole experience that is nothing short of majestic and breathtaking. Acts such as Mastodon, Rosetta, Tool, Converge and Opeth can serve as sonic reference points, but Pelagic is a cinematic spectacle that represents The Ocean at an undoubtedly unique and masterfully original musical summit.