Oceans of Slumber’s new album Winter (Century Media) is sort of frustrating. Frustrating like “Wow I’m really enjoying this song” and then one of the novice inconsistencies comes in and I’m punching my fridge repeatedly.
Don’t let me get off on the wrong foot here as there is much talent to be extracted from this young Houston band. For starters they have a vocalist in Cammie Gilbert who can sing. And by sing I don’t mean the metalcore melodic chorus sandwiched between barking verses. Like she can actually fucking sing. Guitarists Anthony Contreras and Sean Gary cleverly find the link between Sabbath doom and Michael Amott shred. Seems like a no brainer, right? Possible album of the month?
Not quite yet. Winter’s title track its follow up ‘Devout’ (and ‘…This Road’) serve as the cover letter to this pretty good resume. They highlight Gilbert’s vocals and pull from various strains of extreme metal and form them into a cohesive and satisfying musical package. ‘Night in White Satin’ comes close to recreating this alchemy, but the repeated hook begins to feel like deadweight. And then what precedes that is my biggest issue with Winter. Interludes.
Never thought I’d ever bring up interludes as a point of contention in a review, but counting outro track ‘Grace,’ there are five of them on Winter. While interludes is a musical trend that many a modern band resorts to (looking at you Between the Buried and Me), by going to that well so often we lose about 10 minutes of quality time with Oceans of Slumber. That’s a shame considering that the band has such a great understanding of light and shade dynamics, so there really isn’t a need for interludes. Speaking of dynamics check out ‘Apologue,’ if you to see what Oceans of Slumber sound like when they leave the melody at home. It’s shockingly heavy.
So not quite album of the month, but they’ve got the tools and with a little roadwork, Oceans of Slumber’s next could be album of the year.
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