Sorry guys, those of who who clicked on this review link expecting or hoping for a melancholic Finnish or Swedish death/doom band based on the moniker, will be a bit disappointed , as this is nothing of the sort. However, while you are here let me introduce you to this multifaceted, progressive metal band from Texas that features the drummer of grindcore outfit, Insect Warfare, and a guitarist with a Jazz degree.
Despite the somber moniker, what we have here is a massive mix of styles covering a large spectrum of metal; mostly prog, thrash and death metal. I’ll just give you a list of bands that Oceans of Slumber cite is likes and references as that would be much easier than me trying to explain everything I hear in this vast musical collage; Gorjira. Devin Townsend, King Crimson, Soilwork, Faith No More, Disincarnate– just to name a few. And frankly I hear all of those in Aetherial, as hard as that is to digest. And while that large list of tangible influences might seem like a mess, Oceans of Slumber pull it off admirably, resulting in a very impressive and ambitious album that should have appeal to a large cross section of fans.
A couple of lesser know bands I hear in Oceans of Slumber‘s sound that are off the beaten path are the UK’s Monsterworks and and France’s Kalisia, a band who also meld a large array of influences into one large cohesive, sci fi themed conceptual outfit. And so with Aetherial you get a dash of everything backed by solid musicianship and writing. There’s blast beats, death metal growls, smooth atmospheric transitions sections, widdly solos, burly angular chugging, deft jazzy riffs, clean croons and everything in between. It is initially a bit overwhelming, but the strength of the songs and the skill of the members keep everything together.
Opener “God in Skin” give you a pretty good indication of Oceans of Slumber’s sprawling, ambitious sound, but there’s simply curveballs and tangents around every corner of every song. it’s never quite as busy or spazzy as say Journal, another self released ambitious gem from 2010, as the restrained lopes and lurches are never completely unfettered and the svelte prog tendencies keep everything reigned in. Ironically, second track “Coffins Like Kites” actually starts with a doom metal riff goes through a urgent spurt, and a spacey, proggy Floyd-ian drift. , highlighting the bands array of styles.
As you have probably gatherer, Aetherial isn’t a quick easy listen. Fro example, “Memoriam” gives you a little bit of breathing room with a semi sort of ballad that comes across like Pantera‘s cover of “Planet Caravan”, before shifting into a fierce almost black metal tinged salvo. And while this all over the place style has some downfalls as far as attention span, there is no denying the scope of the band’s sound in indeed admirable. Case and point the track that follows the almost fluid “Memoriam”, “Remedy” has the choppy backbone of a Watchtower-y thrashy number but injects shimmery, spacial solos and celestial atmospherics before a big sprawling melodic, FNM bridge and lead.
But of course, these vast levels of style interplay come at a price, as there often may be too much going on for many listeners, especially curious grindcore fans interested in drummer Dobber Beverly’s involvement. The jarring difference between restrained radio ready rocker “Only a Corpse” and the hulking death metal start of the title track, just might simply be a little too ambitious for some. I’ll admit, with the long songs and constant style kaleidoscope, that by the time the seventh 7th track “Primordial”, with its pure black metal screech and blast rolls around, I’m a little exhausted, and that’s before the 9 minute closer “Great Divide”. But those willing to challenge themselves and check out a challenging band that ignores genres and conventions might find a lot to like about Oceans of Slumber and I for one hope they develop from more of a sideshow curiosity/project into a very promising outfit that will command some more attention over the next couple of years.[Visit the band's website]