The Ocean
Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic I Cenozoic

 The Ocean and I share a lot in common; It’s vast, salty, and sailors consistently die in it (what?).

As for the band, the same rings true; They’re progressive, comprised entirely of Germans, and good for a release every couple of years (again, what).

Since we share so much in common, it only seems fair I review their new album Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic/Cenozoic. I’m blown away no one claimed this album first, especially following the masterpiece they released in 2018; Phanerozoic I: Paleozoic. Then again, everything I have ever heard from them can be called “great” at worst and “masterpiece” at best.

To say expectations were high for the new affair would be an understatement. The opening track, “Triassic” starts off very well with the guitar melody creeping its way into your brain amongst mostly subdued instrumentals. That bassadilla (patent pending) sounds brilliant, too. It’s an 8-and-a-half-minute opener which is essentially one big vocal hook. This isn’t an easy task to pull off without boring the listener, but nothing The Ocean does is easy (except your mom).

Possibly the best track on this entire album is the next one, which is called “Jurassic I Cretaceous.” It’s about 13 minutes and is basically two tracks in one. When it switches directions about halfway, I thought the vocals sounded a lot like Jonas Renske of Katatonia. Well, they actually sound exactly like him… because it is him. His vocals fit this track perfectly as it reminds me quite a bit of his band’s latter era work (which I criminally underrated earlier this year). Near the end, the vocals transition back to Loïc, who does his usual masterful job. The first two tracks are definitely standouts.

After those, there is a series of shorter tracks nestled in the middle, including an instrumental interlude called “Oligocene.” “Eocene” and “Miocene I Pliocene” surround that short interlude. While all of these tracks are important to the flow of the album, the others at the beginning and end of the track listing are far more important to the overall vibe, such as track 7, “Pleistocene.”

Speaking of; “Pleistocene” might be the most death metal The Ocean has ever been, at least to these ears. The track has an unhinged, about to fly off the rails, suffocating quality with harsh vocals and blast beats, specifically with about two minutes left. The build up to it is spellbinding. Dare I say it’s like drowning… in The Ocean (har har)?

The next track is the closer called “Holocene.” There’s a great chorus, but possibly the best part is that the refrain from the opening track is repeated near the end. It’s very well-done and it bookends the album beautifully.

The verdict is probably pretty clear. By the time this is posted, hopefully my bundle will have arrived. This is not their heaviest album. No, not by a long shot. In fact, it is possibly their least heavy. It’s more keyboard driven, but not to an overbearing degree. It’s catchy, passionate, and inventive all the way through. Album of the year material all the way through.


[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
October 19th, 2020


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