I want to tell you all about this new band OCEANS OF SLUMBER I was recently turned onto, but I don’t even know where to begin. Part Doom, part Prog, with some Death and Black Metal mixed in among other influences they are easily one of the most unique groups I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. You must understand that I get hundreds of promos every month from various labels, and I can only write about the ones that really strike me, whether that be good or bad. In the case of this band I found myself not only intrigued, but impressed immediately with their major label debut album Winter, out now via Century Media Records.
They draw you into a world that is at times cold and bleak, yet with a yearning hopefulness. Vocalist Cammie Gilbert goes from powerful to soft and lilting depending on what each track calls for. Behind her the dual guitars from Anthony Contreras and Sean Gary work hand-in-hand with Uaeb Yelsaeb’s synthesisers while the duo of Keegan Kelly (bass) and Dobber (drums) brings us through these musical waters like Charon does the souls of the dead across The River Styx. Opener “Winter” is truly the perfect way to start this disc, as it builds and builds over 7:57, with a pretty guitar line and simple, understated drumming. Around the 2:40 mark it heavies up a bit with some distortion and harsh growls, building towards its crescendo.
Heavy doom and black metal leanings make up “Devout”, in parts of the vocals, and in the music for sure. Here you will also find the record’s best guitar solo, fluid and flawless. One of the greatest covers I have ever heard follows with “Nights In White Satin”. Haunting and atmospheric, with a lethal dose of heavy, I was compelled to play it over and over and over again. Hell, I still am and I suspect many of you will be, too. This transitions beautifully into the short but sweet “Lullaby”, Gilbert’s voice wrapping itself around your ears and never letting go. “Laid to Rest” is an acoustic instrumental, both Contreras and Gary treating their guitars just right and bringing forth gorgeous tone and feel.
The pace shifts dramatically on “Suffer the last Bridge” to a faster tempo and Gilbert sounds cynical and jaded, like someone who’s clearly been fucked over and is just done with whoever the subject of the song is. Instrumental “Good Life” features some eerie synths and would be great as the score to a short film. More doom tempo and arrangements abound on “Sunlight”; there’s also a TYPE O NEGATIVE feel that is undeniable. “Turpentine” once again showcases Gilbert’s amazing and beautiful voice over a blues-tinged jam that is virtually impossible to tear yourself away from. When I heard “Apopologue” all I could envision was this group decked out in head-to-toe black venturing out into the night to wreak havoc.
One more interlude shows up in “How Tall the Trees” before we come to what is arguably my favorite track on the disc with “…This Road.” Another epic clocking in at nearly eight minutes I found myself coming back again and again. Starting with just Yelsaeb’s piano and Gilbert’s voice, the band comes in one by one, painting a picture and setting the scene. You just close your eyes and feel it. As the darkness creeps in and the intensity grows you will feel it in your chest. For the last few minutes Gilbert and her bandmates go for broke and leave it all laid out there on tape for all the world to hear and bask in. “Grace” has Yelsaeb once again tickling the ivories in an instrumental closer that gets its point across with no words necessary.
As I stated earlier OCEANS OF SLUMBER are very, very unique. And quite frankly this is an album that is very different from what I normally put on. But there is no denying the tractor beam pull it had on me, and I’m sure it will have the same effect on others as well. If you’re looking for a record to light a bunch of candles to and completely immerse yourself in at night, then Winter is the one for you.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Winter”, “…This Road”, “Turpentine”, “Nights In White Satin”, “Suffer the Last Bridge”