Nuclear Blast Records have had a storming year, and they continue their hot streak with the release of Hell Is Where The Heart Is by Oceans. The four piece whose members hail from Berlin and Vienna released their debut EP Into The Void in 2019 followed by Cover Me In Darkness, a second EP in the same year featuring their interpretations of tracks from the likes of Alice In Chains, Deftones and Radiohead, before dropping their debut LP The Sun And The Cold in 2020.
The band have been drip feeding their latest work throughout 2022, starting with the EP Hell Is Where The Heart Is Pt 1 : Love, followed by Pt 2 : Longing, and now the long player which includes both of those releases, and essentially what is Pt 3, combining to create a concept album exploring the darkest depths of love and loss.
Thematically, this record is a highly emotional melancholic journey which looks at coping with, and recovering from, a broken heart, offering moments of hope but with an overall arc of despair and suffering dominating the lyrical content. Each third section of the record starts with an atmospheric interlude and a spoken voice which sets the tone with lyrics such as “The more withered and lonely a scarred heart becomes, the more it craves to withdraw itself to a far away place”.
And from start to finish, the nine songs on the record are beautifully executed, with crisp production and a blend of haunting clean vocal sections and heavier screams, as the band throw moments of nu-metal, deathcore and metalcore into the melting pot, and swirl it all around with eloquent precision.
The nu-metal influence is all apparent on the first two songs. ‘Awakening’ opens the album with a strong riff with singer and guitarist Timo Rotten sounding not unlike Jonathan Davis during the clean sections, before the comparison becomes more obvious as it fades into a part which takes obvious inspiration from Korn’s ’Daddy’.
‘Sulfar’ opens furiously with double kick drums, screams and pure unadulterated aggression, where you can hear Iowa era Corey Taylor in Rotten’s voice, before the track drop into a melodic part where he channels the sound of Chino Moreno and the band deliver a full on Deftones vibe. ‘Skin’ then opens with tortured singing over a lush piano, a darkly poetic song with a twisted and chaotic chorus as Rotten spits “I want to wear your skin”, perfectly showcasing how Oceans can smoothly switch between styles.
The middle part of the record is pure metalcore, with powerfully uplifting tracks including ‘Home’, ‘I Want To Be Whole Again’ and ‘Living = Dying’, continuing the concept of the record with each song rippling through sumptuous rolling down-tuned riffs, great hooks and moments of tortuous singing. The final section starts with ‘If There’s A God She Has Abandoned Us’ which is another big metalcore song with a chorus you can easily imagine a crowd singing along to, before moving into ‘I Sing Alone’ which features one of the heaviest moments on the record with deep gruff deathcore style vocals.
Oceans close out on the title track, which is abrasive and violent with Rotten once again flashing glimpses of Jonathan Davis at his heaviest and most demented, as he screams “Hell Is Where The Heart Is” and the record finishes on a thoroughly gloomy note, providing one hell of a ride for anyone who enjoys the darker side of music.
Buy the album here:
9 / 10