Supporting underground metal since 2006




Oceans of Slumber - Aetherial

As a music critic, I felt fortunate when I listened to Oceans of Slumber’s new release Aetherial, because it’s always great to get an album to review that actually turns out to be one of the best records I’ve heard this year. Believe me, it’s becoming more and more of a rarity in this line of work. However, I felt even more fortunate once I found out that this album is self-released and yet features musicianship and production easily on par with other major label releases I’ve heard recently. In my view, it just goes to show that the ability to produce high-quality music is becoming more and more accessible to bands without the need to submit to label contracts. I count myself lucky to be able to help promote an especially worthy band. And, seriously, if you’re a fan of heavy rock, metal or prog, you’ll want to keep an eye on these guys.

Aetherial is a great album, not only because of what it brings to the table, but because it does a great job of improving upon some things that have been done before. The initial impression I got from the music was that its vibe falls somewhere between Pantera and Lamb of God. However, it only took about 10 seconds before I realized this is more like the kind of music I wish LOG would’ve put out four or five albums ago (instead of just Sacrament over and over). In any case, the first couple of tracks on Aetherial have an awesome mix of badass Texas attitude and a diversity that LOG can’t begin to approach. There are elements of death and black metal, along with prog-flavored rhythmic and dynamic changes that easily hold the attention and display the band’s heavier tendencies.

The third track, “Memoriam” (one of my favorites), brings in a somber, laid-back vibe with a slower tempo and cleaner vocals that evoke a kind of nostalgic, mid-1990s alt-rock feel before driving into a pulverizing, black metal inspired middle section. The main guitar riffs in the verse and chorus  are addictive to the point that I find myself repeating this track, in particular, when listening through the album. Being that it’s one of the more straight-forward songs in terms of the melodic arrangement, I can even see this being a potential radio hit. Do they still play metal on the radio?

The tracks that follow get back into the heavy, driving guitar work and crazy, syncopated percussion. Did I mention that every member of this band is extraordinarily talented? I mean, for me to give this level of praise to any album necessitates that the guitars and vocals are top-shelf, which indeed they are. Something that really caught me by surprise is how good the drumming is on this record. Dobber Beverly has some friggin’ chops … he is clearly a trained pro. I’ve always felt that drumming in metal only really sticks out when it is extremely good or extremely bad. Anywhere in between, and I always find myself totally focused on the melodic instruments. I often find myself following along with Beverly’s poly-rhythms in equity with the axes and vocals.

The rest of the album features a great diversity of styles that blend in a very satisfying way. It’s hard to actually pick favorites here, partially because the album is very cohesive from song to song, as if they wrote each one in succession as a perfectly fitting sequel to the previous tune. From front to back, you get extremely well-conceived and executed guitar/bass arrangements, excellent use of dynamic changes, flavors from a variety of different metal styles – hard rock, jazz, ambiance, prog, and big balls. The production, as I mentioned, is excellent and has a great balance between instruments. Everything is heard and nothing is overly featured.

Oceans of Slumber is probably going to be my favorite new band of 2013, and I recommend them to anyone looking to hear something awesome. I’m really looking forward to following the career of this band and hopefully catching them live soon.

Rating: 5/5 Stars.

Aetherial is self-released and out now.