Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Doom-Metal.com Review #17 [Ocean of Ghosts - "Ascending"]


You probably wouldn't be very far off base to think something is a tad bit wrong with your psyche when you find the new Ocean of Ghosts album to be an attractive and alluring piece of music. Easily one of the 'prettiest' sounding un-mainstream records that I have ever had the pleasure of listening to, this is not something that will be at all appealing to the Fall Out Boy mallrats of the current generation. Demented, cruel, captivating and audibly claustrophobic, 'Ascending' sets itself apart from the Extreme Doom Metal rat race with its suffocating layers of ambience and droning noise to complement the driving, over-fuzzed guitar work that can be heard on display throughout. The guitars, for the most part, actually remind me of another stateside Doom act (Oregon's Akem Manah), but whereas that crew seems to try far too hard to seem dark and evil, the one-man force of Ocean of Ghosts makes it seem almost second nature. 

The album's opener, "Destroyer", is a good example of how the Ocean of Ghosts formula typically tries to work itself out. The crushing, engulfing Drone worshipping first half of the track that makes Sunn O))) seem calm by comparison gives way to a hypnotic, almost wave-like ambient texture segment to close out to the song. On the other hand, the album's fourth tune, "Sky Burial", which has a guitar tone that could pass for a rough and dirty synthesizer to most ears, seems to almost slide in and out of both styles seemlessly, creating a thick bed of tension from start to finish. Without trying to build it up too much to the reader, this could be one of the few albums I can think of that would make Brian Williams (Lustmord) react in a wide-eyed manner. In most of the tracks, the vocal work itself almost turns into an instrument all it's own, being heavily effected all around and adding one more level of chaos to the overflowing blueprints of 'Ascending'. On an album that finds even the softer songs conveying a strong sense of dread to the listener, be warned of the journey that this album is about to take you on.

As far as the rest of the instrumentation goes, everything seems to work so well together that I'm having trouble pointing out flaws of any kind. The drumwork tends not to be your normal, boring Doom/Drone fodder and the bass work (When it's able to be distinguished from the rest of the mass) fills in its void without issue. Another thing worth making mention of is the track lengths found on the album which, to no one's surprise inside the genre's fanbase, are all quite extensive. The album itself is almost an eighty minute affair while only covering eight track slots and still creating tracks which are interesting enough from start to finish to not make you ready for a nap or have an itch to hit the skip button. All in all, the album is a strong one and definitely something to look into for anyone who likes a helping of Drone and Ambience to go with their Doom. To conclude, the record is no doubt a worthy (and superior) successor to 2009's 'Loss And Numbness', taking many of the primal ideas found there, bringing out the best in the elements and assembling one fine monolith for the 2013 spectrum. All I can say is that this better not be the last Ocean of Ghosts record. You have been warned, Mr. Cutrer!


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