A release from The Ocean is always one that comes with a certain guarantee of quality.
PHANEROZOIC I: PALAEOZOIC makes good on the tradition, and what a wonderful way to spend the best part of an hour. This is apparently the first half of what will be a double album. Phanerozoic is an eon of around 500 million years that takes us up to present day that has included no fewer than five events that have partially destroyed the earth. The record takes us through some of these events and times. “Science Metal” anyone?
Looking at the song titles and then doing some googling will make you smarter. Seriously, it is really good stuff. As you fall down that particular rabbit hole, PHANEROZOIC I: PALAEOZOIC is an astoundingly apt soundtrack. Composer and guitarist Robin Staps clearly immersed himself in this subject in order to achieve the synonymous atmosphere with the music, but doesn’t he always? This is what makes The Ocean so special.
The choice to have Jonas Renske of Katatonia lend his inimitable and bewitching voice to the albums undoubted centerpiece, ‘Devonian Nascent,’ is nothing short of genius. The track’s more somber first half is made even more alluring with his exquisite vocals before heavying up again. ‘Devonian Nascent’ is as good as anything The Ocean have put their name to. This is because of context, and that’s something fans will already know. The Ocean once again use all kinds of textures, modes, and colors to take us on their fantastic journey. It is harder to name another outfit that currently do it better.
Vocalist Loic Rossetti is wonderfully versatile, and shows yet again that he can match the twists and turns of the music’s course. His chosen vocal melodies in the opening ‘Cambrian II’ are sublime. Apparently, in a productive move, he and Staps isolated themselves in order to nail the delivery.
Jens Bogren, once again, proves why he is one of the best mixers in the business by making sure that the music is dense and as vast as the subject matter. He does so whilst making sure you can pick out every little nuance of all the recorded instruments. Check out the quieter mid-section of ‘Silurian,’ the piano in particular, and notice how it sits with the guitars, drums, bass, and strings as well as what is actually being played on it. Exquisite.
Bring on the second half, because it will be one hell of the rest of the journey!