Metal Blade
rating icon 7 / 10

Track listing:

01. The City In the Sea
02. Dead Serious and Highly Professional
03. Austerity
04. Killing the Flies
05. Une Saison en Enfer
07. One With the Ocean
08. Swoon
09. Queen of the Food Chain
10. Inertia

Without knowing any backstory on this German collective, "Aeolian" would (perhaps more accurately) be seen as just a decent, somewhat redundant heavy album with a lot of long songs and huge riffs. But THE OCEAN are actually a loose group of musicians who live and work in the catacombs of an abandoned aluminum factory in Berlin, incorporate visual artists as full-time members of the group, and are known on other releases to work drum-and-bass, trip-hop, and orchestral elements into their sound.

"Aeolian" is actually half of a mammoth session the collective recorded over eighteen months, and it's the heavier, more aggressive chunk (the rest was released in 2004 as "Fluxion"). Those esoteric elements mentioned above barely get a hearing here – this is pummeling, snarling, angry metal with a technical bent, lurching through CONVERGE-like squalls of ugliness, interspersed with slower and more monolithic sections.

In keeping with the remembership philosophy, no less than six guest vocalists, screamers all, show up on "Aeolian". Tomas Hallbom (BREACH),Sean Ingram (COALESCE) and Nate Newton (CONVERGE, OLD MAN GLOOM) add a little bit of star power, and provide hours of guess-the-singer fun (the band even promises a free t-shirt in the liner notes to anyone who can chart the whole album, vocally).

But while none of the vocalists really distinguish themselves, the music on "Aeolian" seems designed to stick out, to perplex and to mystify. Comparisons to NEUROSIS, ISIS, MASTODON and MESHUGGAH have all been heard in relation to "Aeolian", and at various intervals they could all be seen as accurate. There are massive, monolithic slow parts, convoluted technical riffery, balls-out aggressive hardcore, squalling moody midtempo bits… it's quite a bit to digest, particularly given the fact that these are some long, sprawling songs. "Aeolian" is a bit of a grower, though, and those patient enough to give multiple listens (preferably in headphones) will find the album more rewarding with each trip through its unpredictable terrain.

The whole thing does end up getting a bit fatiguing by the end, even after it sinks in a bit. One wonders if the band maybe took out a little too much of its other, odder influences, attempting to make a record that tries (and mostly succeeds) in being avant-garde within more strict metal confines. I think if THE OCEAN had gone a little further with that self-editing and cut down some of these 7-9 minute horsepills, or just gone cackling off the deep end and made things even more bizarre and weird, "Aeolian" would be a classic. As it is, it's still a good album, strange and weird, but ultimately, first and foremost, viscerally heavy. Well worth the time for fans of any of the above mentioned groups.

  • facebook
  • twitter
  • reddit
  • email

Comments Disclaimer And Information

BLABBERMOUTH.NET uses the Facebook Comments plugin to let people comment on content on the site using their Facebook account. The comments reside on Facebook servers and are not stored on BLABBERMOUTH.NET. To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@) with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).