Once in a while an album will come along and completely blow me away with its sheer intensity. An album that strays away from a collection of songs with the usual verse/chorus/verse/chorus/guitar solo etc. Pelagial, the 5th studio album from Swiss based band The Ocean is definitely one of those albums! It is a concept album made evident by the title as the subject matter is the 5 Pelagic depth zones of the ocean. The band have described Pelagial as a progressive musical journey, written, recorded, mixed and to-be-performed-live as one single 53 minute piece of music.
The 11 songs on Pelagial begin at the surface of the ocean so the music is light but gets heavier and dense as the album progresses as the unfathomable depths are reached. As the album is continuous, the tracks are connected by underwater sounds and samples taken from old submarine movies to give it a claustrophobic feel. It was originally written as an instrumental piece but vocals were added at a later date and both versions will be released via Metal Blade Records on April 26th 2013 in Europe and April 30th in North America and the rest of the world.
After the initial playback i found a connection with the grandeur of Tool, the aggression of early Will Haven, the progressive melodies of Earthtone 9 and the twists and turns of At The Drive In but repeated playbacks bring forth a lot more nuances. Every track is a classic but personal highlights are Mesopelagic-Into The Uncanny. It follows the brief, sedate album intro of Epipelagic as its Pink Floyd like guitar is followed by a faster shift in pace with cello backing as a huge Opeth type riff crashes in backed by jaw dropping melodies. A mellow vocal at the 2 minute mark gets edgier as the song progresses over staccato riffing ; the guitars then drive the song to a close over crashing percussion.
A lilting piano segment backed by strings and shards of guitar following the heavy intro to Bathyalpelagic I-Impasses is blown away by a pleading vocal over thudding rhythms into a stunning Tool like sound scape. Part II has an almost death metal vocal intro as jazz like guitar lines over hard hitting drum patterns are followed by more piano, leading straight into part III; its suffocating intro precedes a barked vocal over raging discordant guitars.
The bombastic, brief intro of Hadopelagic I-Omen Of The Deep is followed by the 9 minute long part II-Let Them Believe which has yet more jazzy guitar chords alternating with intense riffing over a soaring vocal from Loic Rossetti which segues into Demersal-Cognitive Dissonance,another 9 minute epic with a noodling guitar intro followed by a wall of guitars over the angriest vocal on the album raging throughout as a synth ending connects to album closer Benthic-The Origin Of Our Wishes which takes on the riff of Melopelagic-Into The Uncanny but albeit in a far heavier way, smashing it to pieces with noise levels at the critical stage, a fitting way to end Pelagial.
The Ocean came to be in 2001, formed by guitarist Robin Staps, still in the band to this day and were initially based in Berlin but numerous line up changes have led to just Robin being Berlin based and the remaining 4 core members living in Switzerland. When the band play live they have many backing musicians on cello, violin, saxophone, trombone and trumpet to name but a few instruments all recreating the complexities of the music.
No expense has been spared in the packaging of Pelagial. It is such an important piece of music to the band it will be available in a 10 panel digipak with artwork by Seldon Hunt and a special acrylic box set edition will be out via Pelagic Records on cd and 4×10″ vinyl formats. The acrylic boxes will contain the cds or vinyl and will be buried underneath 5 thick different blue transparent acrylic layers, reflecting the oceans 5 different pelagic depth zones. The layers will be silk-screen printed by hand with artwork by Martin Kvamme.
The box sets will also come with an extra dvd featuring a 5.1 Dolby surround mix of the instrumental version of Pelagial and the Pelagial movie, which will be shown as a live video projection when The Ocean perform the album live. The movie visualizes the journey into the depths of the ocean and took over a year to shoot, cut and edit.
Luc Hess – Drums.
Robin Staps – Guitar.
Jonathan Nido – Guitar.
Louis Jucker – Bass guitar.
Loic Rossetti – Vocals.
Album track listing :-
Mesopelagic – Into The Uncanny.
Bathyalpelagic I – Impasses.
II – The Wish In Dreams.
III – Disequillibrated.
Abyssopelagic I – Boundless Vasts.
II – Signals Of Anxiety.
Hadopelagic I – Omen Of The Deep.
II- Let Them Believe.
Demersal – Cognitive Dissonance.
Benthic – The Origin Of Our Wishes.