Very seldom does an album come along that completely captivates me to the point that, no matter how hard I try to cleanse my musical palette, I end up going right back to said album in a matter of hours. Oceans Of Slumber‘s new album, Winter, is that album.
Winter really is unlike anything out there today. Oceans of Slumber blend prog with a melancholy, doomy goth sound all of their own, and then add elements of death and black metal, as well as the blues, for balance. If you took Fleshgod Apocalypse, Dream Theater, Opeth and Behemoth, and then smashed them all in a blender, it would sound close to what is presented on Winter. Cammie Gilbert‘s voice is as close to heavenly as it gets, and Sean Gary‘s guttural vocals provide the perfect yin to her yang. She’s hypnotic and melodic, and he sounds straight from hell. It’s perfect!
The title track opens up with a soft and beautiful intro, and Gilbert’s vocals are haunting and powerful right from the start. Gary and fellow guitarist Anthony Contreras provide the perfect blend of melody and monster riffs as the song builds. Dobber Beverly is an absolute monster on the drums throughout this album, and his innate ability to go from black metal blasts to slower, simpler timekeeping is absolutely commendable. “Devout” is a beast of a song that is darker and more melancholy than the opener. The musicianship exhibited here is nothing short of spectacular, a ferocious maelstrom coming at warp speed before shifting into a lower, melodic gear for the break.
The Moody Blues classic “Nights in White Satin” picks up where Oceans of Slumber left off with the exceptional covers on their Blue EP. It’s majestic, brooding and has a life all it’s own. “Lullaby” is spine-chillingly haunting, and Gilbert’s vocals here are lonely and sad. “Laid to Rest” is an instrumental that is dainty but pensive. “Suffer The Last Bridge,” the first single, is perhaps the most accessible song on the album. It’s catchy and melodic, yet it still retains a sharp edge throughout. “Sunlight” is slower and builds to a giant crescendo with riffs that are huge and crushing. “Turpentine” is more blues-drenched, and “Apologue” brings out the beast in the band with black metal blasts and beastly vocals. It is, without a doubt, my favorite song here. “How Tall The Trees” is a trippy interlude, which then breaks into “…This Road.” This song is another testament to the musicianship and songwriting skills possessed by Oceans of Slumber. “Grace” is beautifully played on piano and leads out of Winter on a classical note.
Oceans of Slumber have created a masterpiece on their first full-length. Winter is my favorite release of the year so far, and I’m sure it will earn a top spot on many other year-end lists as well.
Winter is out March 4 on Century Media Records. Pre-order it here!