When Oceans of Slumber released Winter a few years back, I absolutely fell in love with it. The juxtaposition of different genres, vocal styles, and instrumentation makes for an interesting and entertaining listen. When you add vocalist extraordinaire Cammie Gilbert into the mix, it completely sends the music over the top. She has a way of conveying moodiness and emotion like no other. I have eagerly awaited the follow up to Winter, The Banished Heart, and I cannot quit listening to it, as you hear something new with every listen.
“The Decay Of Disregard” opens the album with a doomy, moody ambiance. Dobber Beverly showcases his drumming talents between fills and blast beats. “Fleeting Vigilance” starts soft and dreamy, then breaks into a mixture of dark, throat-wrenching vocals amid Gilbert’s airy, emotional accents. The song builds to an acoustic break in the middle, then launches forward with more anger than ever. “At Dawn” is the band doing what they do best. It harnesses powerful, heavy doom riffs and then laces powerful vocals and guitars through them. The title track really focuses on Gilbert’s vocals. She is so full of emotion that you can actually feel it overflowing in her performance. The song has a classical feel, with both strings and piano completing the atmosphere. “Etiolation” has more of a groove in the verses, but it harbors a cacophony of guitar harmonies and guttural vocals straight from the pit of hell!
“A Path to Broken Stars” is a bit of a different beast, and the rhythm section blazes at a frantic pace, yet the vocals are laid gently on top of them. It has a distinct Dream Theater feel to it. “Howl of The Rougaru” has an old, scratched vinyl feel in the beginning, then breaks into heavy, doom-laden riffs that envelop you. “No Color, No Light” is my favorite here, and it feels like it takes you on a journey of sorts. The mixture of Gilbert’s clean vocals and Tom Englund’s (Evergrey) clean vocals make it just plain beautiful. The emotion and darkness of the song weigh heavily on you.
Oceans of Slumber have produced another masterpiece with The Banished Heart. It is everything I expected and more.
The Banished Heart is out now on Century Media Records. Buy it here!