To capture that rawness of emotional distress and atmospheric dread, then to be mixed with the overpowering rush of clashing percussion and stringed instruments takes craftsmanship. It relies heavily on ability and the shifting tides of creating intrigue without becoming drowned out, but Oceans of Slumber makes waves on their newest release, The Banished Heart.
The Texas progressive metal band is formed by Cammie Gilbert who leads on vocals, Sean Gary on guitar and deeper, more growl centered vocals. Along side is Anthony Contreras who works with Gary in similar fashion of guitar and vocal performance. There is Keegan Kelly on the bass and backing vocals, leaving Dobber on the keys, guitar, and percussion aspects. The concept of having a clean vocalist that works over the quite harsh instrumentation that often uses splashing percussion, focuses on the snare and rolling fills, can encase the listener in this consistent movement. With then being paired over the frequent blitzing and headstrong strings in a hydra formation makes for one of the more conflicting bands in music today.
Frequently, there is Gilbert who speaks gently over the flying instrumentation, providing these senses of fulfillment without any gaps in between Oceans of Slumber’s sound. Especially on The Banished Heart where the instrumentalists are impressive without being overbearing. Opening with the just shy of nine-minutes track, “The Decay of Disregard”, the piano works to build this glimmering effect before the storm of movement. It is one of the more impressive displays on The Banished Heart as the sudden shift into the rising guitar and eventual openness and space behind the music is inspiring. Production-wise, The Banished Heart is a masterpiece that feels polished and clean beyond belief. The only real dirt in Oceans of Slumber’s sound is the topics covered, the ugliness of truth and questioning.
Gilbert explains, “Did you even try to find me, did you even care for one last chance at reconciliation? Do you know how long these veins have ran? Remnant of red that stains your hands.” Tapping into the personal factor, while keeping it open enough to have the music develop behind the message; Oceans of Slumber are a building crew and wrecking force in equal aspects. Shown well in the entirely instrumental and synth heavy piece, “The Watcher”, there is a focus on creating the backing of an eerie heaviness behind The Banished Heart. Often times direct, “The Watcher” plays with that format and shifts to find Oceans of Slumber in a different light than what is shown before it. Sticking out for the short style, “The Watcher” is one of the shortest tracks on The Banished Heart, only reaching into two-minutes and twenty-five-seconds.
Usually, tracks of The Banished Heart reach into five-minutes or more but never outstay their welcome. On the following “Etiolation”, there is a focus on the destructive aspect of Oceans of Slumber that somehow feels comforting through the rush of instrumentation. Oceans of Slumber can create a positive push of emotion even behind the very heavy lyrical and musical style of The Banished Heart. Dobber is excellent throughout the The Banished Heart on the percussion, but shows such an immense talent behind the rolling and cascading fills of “Etiolation”. The entire band follows this movement and begins a rapid attack with the guitars and bass filling in the gaps over the growled vocals.
The Banished Heart is a free, unconstructed animal of both rising and falling action. Oceans of Slumber function incredibly well as a team that creates progressive metal to the core and changes into a more adaptable sense of ability over the glorious instrumentation, beautiful leading vocals, and experimentation with atmosphere that pays off in adding more to the already packed journey.