|Posted on January 9, 2015 at 1:30 PM|
Scintillating Israeli prog metal
Opening with a skin-crawling atmosphere in which impassioned guitar harmonics, humility quilted vocals and building, cinematic acoustic guitars dwell, this Israeli quartet have you lapping in their crashing waves and pulling current from the off. While the focal point of their sound swims in the waters of progressive metal, accounting for the adventurous arrangements, off-beat swagger and dexterous musicianship that marks this record throughout, they often migrate into, dive into other styles, moods and textures with a cohesive convincingness that is to admired.
Their smooth, soulful approach is both lulling and moving, sincere, heartfelt emotion bared to the listener one moment, a punching, rhythmically boisterous explosion echoing out of their amplifiers the next. Their Jekyll and Hyde aesthetics inject a consistent diversity and cunning unpredictability to these songs, but it is when these two characters stare deeply into one another’s eyes during the same memorable scene that they punch a hole into your psyche, step inside and make themselves at home.
While delicate, prickling moments open up the record, it isn’t long before the guitar – warm yet sharp and biting with its tone – comes roaring to the surface alongside gliding vocal lines that are nigh on impossible to ignore.
South Of Heaven then marries laid back Pink Floydian psychadelia, especially through David Gilmore fashioned bleeding notes, with their own signature sound which, at three songs in has already made itself as recognisable as can be. It pulls you this when then that, betwixt a chorus of emphatic grace and power.
Read up on this band and you will find that fellow Israeli and Manchester Rocks favourite Yossi Sassi is credited for taking the helm of production duties, steering this band across a course that visits their vast array of influences and stylistic changes before setting anchor at a place which is resolutely there’s.
Enter is huge. The raw, unhinged capabilities of guitarist Idan Liberman are hereby paraded a little more. Deft pinch harmonics, moving chord progression, effects-lathered passages and an overall might capable of slaying an entire kingdom and pillaging its castle walls are the name of the game here while once more hinging on hammer blow of a chorus. Wind Up In A Barrel (A Trubte To Walter) meanwhile channels a glorious meandering riff reminiscent of Gojira with that same stabbing impact and touching sensibilities.
But it is their soulfulness which oozes out of every track like an overflowing bathtub that gives this record its unadulterated appeal. The fact you really can hear them bare every ounce of emotion they have on the table for all to listen to, judge and praise or criticise is a bold move but one that results in them basking in a painfully irresistible accessibility – be you a fan of rock, metal, prog, blues and beyond – is what sets them apart.
Vocally, there are fleeting moments that perhaps seem a little rushed on the otherwise wonderfully disjointed These Countless Hours, but HMS Beguile, which follows, is remarkable. Another odyssey, it fluctuates between dynamics, between genteel balladry and quick fire chugs that rattle the ear drums, crescendos similar to Muse and plenty more surprises, it brings that album back up to a solid state.
Eva The Cat Doesn’t Sleep is as oddly sounding in linearity – or lack of – compared with the rest of the album as it is titled, but that’s what gives the song its charm. A gorgeous acoustic track that’s part lounge music, part jazz keeps you, as a listener, guessing even as the record advances towards its final act.
That final act, the self-titled Oceanic is a deeply explorative number, unleashing solos and conceptual shifts where you least expect it. It may not be the most thrilling track on the record but it defines their towering ambition extremely well and caps a rather brilliant album.
This is by far the most accomplished Oceanic release to date, with Yossi Sassi bringing his experience and expertise to bolster an already wonderful act. While it will appeal most broadly to fans of progressive music, be that Pink Floyd, Opeth, Mastodon, Gojira, Steven Wilson or Yes, there is still something, through their soulfulness and cleverly pieced together songs for fans of other rock and metal guises. Give this record a chance and I’m confident that it will, in one way or another, find a place in your heart.
Words: Phil Weller
Categories: CD REVIEWS