Oceans Of Slumber is still exercising their now-signature Progressive/Gothic Metal style but their fourth album comes with a noticeably different attitude. The music is still eclectic and dynamic though the structural shifts aren’t as abrupt as before. The themes and delivery are still driven by heavy emotions but feel more grounded than the overbearing urgency that came with 2018’s The Banished Heart. This is a decidedly more mature execution, which goes along well with the decision to release this album as a self-titled affair.
With that in mind, the songwriting feels more uniformly melodic though still retaining a lot of variety. The opening duo of ‘The Soundtrack To My Last Day’ and ‘Pray For Fire’ make no bones about their influence from classic Opeth and Novembers Doom, but apply their transitions to more gradually crushing structures. ‘A Return To The Earth Below’ and ‘I Mourn These Yellowed Leaves’ are cut from the same cloth but subsequently apply those tropes to more accessible ends. Going even further, I quite appreciate the almost Pink Floyd through electronica flavor of ‘To The Sea (A Tolling Of The Bells)’ as well as the haunting duet on ‘The Colors Of Grace.’
Of course, the band’s extreme side still gets plenty of exposure. ‘The Adorned Fathomless Creation’ puts in an especially abrasive beginning while ‘Total Failure Apparatus’ offers the most brutal Doom. That said, I must admit that the harsh vocals feel tacked on at times and get borderline comical with the latter track’s gurgles. Considering how Cammie Gilbert’s passionate presence is able to counteract the crushing breakdowns and blasting segments without getting jarring, I find myself if there will come a time when the band weans themselves off the growls completely.
There are also a couple tracks that could’ve been cut, especially in light of the album’s seventy-minute runtime, but these end up highlighting even more of the multi-faceted atmosphere. The keyboard ambiance of ‘Imperfect Divinity’ and ‘September (Momentaria)’ are comfortable refreshers to the album’s constant bombast, even if each piece probably could’ve had a minute or so shorter. The band’s near-perfect batting average on cover songs is also well sustained with the closing take on Type O Negative’s ‘Wolf Moon;’ the riffs may be played completely straight but Gilbert’s vocals provide an interesting perspective shift that I’m sure Peter Steele would’ve appreciated.
Befitting a self-titled effort, Oceans of Slumber’s fourth album is easily the band’s most realized achievement thus far. While the lengthy runtime and dense songwriting still may take some extra listens to feel out, the songs are masterfully executed with skill and pathos throughout. Part of me still prefers the more overt vulnerability on The Banished Heart, but this album’s confidence will likely help win out in the long haul. The band is truly something special and I think a few more cohesive tweaks will reveal their magnum opus just around the corner. Purchase it here: https://oceansofslumber.lnk.to/OceansOfSlumberID
8 / 10