Tag Archives: alt rock

Anathema – The Optimist – Album Review

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Artist: Anathema

Album Title: The Optimist

Label: Kscope

Date of Release: 9 June 2017

Anathema is one of my top 5 bands of all time. As such, their new full-length release, ‘The Optimist’ is easily my most highly anticipated album release of 2017.

Put simply, Anathema are a band that speaks to me. They are a band that seem to know instinctively how to press my buttons and touch me whatever my mood. From euphoric and uplifting, to fragile and poignant, they cover the gamut of emotions, leaving me exhilarated one minute and sombre the next, frequently with tears as my constant and ubiquitous silent companion.

I have always liked Anathema, discovering the Liverpudlians via the magnificent ‘Eternity’, back in 1996 as a teenager. However, it was with 2010’s ‘We’re Here Because We’re Here’ and 2012’s ‘Weather Systems’ that my admiration grew into a full-blown love affair, further cemented by ‘Distant Satellites’ in 2014.

To some extent, timing was everything. ‘We’re Here Because We’re Here’ was born less than two years after the heartbreaking passing of my younger brother. And so, when the song ‘Presence’ delivers the spoken word lines of ‘Life is not the opposite of death. Death is the opposite of birth. Life is eternal’ atop a gorgeously ethereal soundscape, I was floored. I know it sounds nonsensical but I felt like Anathema knew me and had put this into the album just for me to help ease my own inner turmoil.

‘Weather Systems’ was released just two years later. Stronger human beings might have moved on from personal tragedy better than I but truth be told, I was still struggling. As such, when I heard ‘Internal Landscapes’ with another powerful spoken word intro delivered by a man who had suffered a near-death experience, I was hit once again. Was this written for me? Of course not, but the conflicting emotions that it stirred in me made me think so. From despair at my loss to the comfort of gaining a little insight into what my brother might have felt as he slipped from us, this masterpiece within Anathema’s undeniable tour-de-force continues to have a huge and lasting impact.

And then, if that wasn’t enough, along came ‘Distant Satellites’ in 2014. I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Daniel and Vincent prior to its release. The guys graciously listened to my babblings as I tried to ineloquently describe the importance of their music to me. To my eternal gratitude, the brothers then gave me the gift of a whole new perspective on ‘The Lost Song, Part 2’. Already an achingly gorgeous song, their words made this composition even more important, further cementing the bond between Anathema, my brother and me.

Given all this history, it is very difficult for me to remain entirely objective where Anathema is concerned. And naturally my expectations will be massive ahead of the release of any new material.

And, to begin with, I struggled with ‘The Optimist’, the eleventh album of the Liverpudlian’s career. Never ones to shy away from experimentation, ‘The Optimist’ is yet another shift in Anathema’s own personal evolution. Whilst the core ingredients of atmosphere, emotional depth and lyrical eloquence are present and correct here, the output framed loosely by alternative/prog rock, has a much darker feel to it in general. There is also a more pronounced use of loops, electronic sounds and percussion that were hinted at within the title track on ‘Distant Satellites’. If I’m honest, whilst I love that specific track, I had my doubts and concerns should Anathema venture further down this musical avenue.

The fact that they have done just that perhaps explains why my initial thoughts on ‘The Optimist’ were not overly favourable. The selfish side of me wanted ten more close variations of ‘The Lost Song Part 2’ or ‘Internal Landscapes’ and I felt disappointed that together, Vincent Cavanagh (vocals, guitars, keys), Daniel Cavanagh (guitars, keys, vocals), John Douglas (acoustic/electronic percussion), Lee Douglas (vocals), Jamie Cavanagh (bass) and Daniel Cardoso (drums/keyboards) hadn’t indulged me.

Anathema-promo-2017-1-1024x683 Caroline Traitler

Credit: Caroline Traitler – http://www.carolinetraitler.net

With the benefit of time and perseverance though, I can now admit that it is not the music on ‘The Optimist’ that was at fault, but my own issues, my own limitations and my selfishness. ‘The Optimist’ is not an instant fix, an immediate score of your favourite musical drug. What it is instead, is a multi-layered, multi-faceted record that demands time and effort on behalf of the listener to unlock its true potential. And when it unlocks…wow!

Interestingly the band have married this latest step forward sonically with a thematic step backwards. In 2001, Anathema released an album called ‘A Fine Day To Exit’ which told the story of a man who wanted to escape his life and the modern world. ‘The Optimist’ reprises this story and in so doing, provides closure to a story that was left unfinished. In typical Anathema style however, the conclusion remains deliberately ambiguous, inviting personal interpretation by the listener.

This thematic decision explains the somewhat strange title of the opening track on ‘The Optimist’, namely ’32.63N 117.14W’. These are in fact the co-ordinates for the beach in San Diego where ‘A Fine Day to Exit’ concludes and which, I assume, adorns the cover of that album, a cover that becomes quite emotional with closer scrutiny. I’ll admit that this is in no way my favourite album in the Anathema back catalogue but I had often thought about that cover and the family photo that sits on the dashboard of the empty car wondering how this story ultimately played out. And now I can.

This opener very much has the feel of a concept album introduction. The sound of waves lapping on the shore, footsteps crunching on the beach, a car engine starting and then station-hopping on the car radio. It is more a scene-setter than a piece of music per se but it then segues rather seamlessly into ‘Leaving It Behind’ and we’re off. And we’re off at some pace, because this is a massively up-tempo, loud and abrasive piece of rock music. The electronic aspect is present from the beginning but with a bit of listening, it really enhances the track, adding an interesting slant to the composition, particularly in the brief atmospheric mid-song break down. As the song develops, the intensity increases as guitars begin to build up into walls of jangly sound whilst the drumming from Cardoso is relentless, ably assisted by bassist Jamie Cavanagh. To my mind, it is the perfect way to introduce an album that has deliberately and consciously been recorded ‘live’ in the studio, because the resulting energy is palpable and thoroughly infectious, pulling the listener along for the heady ride immediately.

As ‘Endless Ways’ begins quietly with just a lone piano and plaintive melody, I’m still catching my breath a little. But as Lee Douglas enters the fray for the first time, accented by some lush orchestration, my attention is well and truly undivided. The melodies and angelic vocals are more reminiscent of the last couple of albums, even if Douglas has parked the vibrato which characterised previous performances. Here, as the song majestically builds from humble beginnings into a powerful and heartfelt outpouring of emotions, Lee demonstrates that she is one of the shining lights in rock music today, whilst Anathema demonstrate that they haven’t lost their mercurial spark, whatever I might have first thought. And yes, you guessed it, the tears flow as I find myself being emotionally nourished by the incredibly important rock in my life that is Anathema.

“Hold on, hold on for dear life
And run, and run all night
For you are loved in endless ways
Stay with me, please believe
I can be your memory

My world will never be the same
And my heart is never going to regret
For you are loved in endless ways
Are loved in endless ways”

This wasn’t written for me, just as previous lyrics weren’t. But they could have been. These words resound with me, they touch me and they comfort me.

More piano introduces the title track, but it is Vincent that initially joins in vocally, joined by Lee at times but only fleetingly. Delicate melodies that are pure Anathema begin to work their charm after a few listens and further orchestration embellishments help to propel the song to a new level of sophistication. The track ebbs and flows, toying with the listener’s moods, but as with its predecessor, there is a subtle build-up towards a crescendo where there’s a hint of a wailing guitar in the vein of songs like ‘Anathema’.

‘San Francisco’ is a bit of an odd one. It is an instrumental that is dominated by a rather repetitive yet strangely beguiling melody, a reprise of sorts of ‘Endless Ways’ if I’m not mistaken. It is then accented by atmospheric synths and electronic sounds which help to set a completely different tone, one that I warm to more and more as time goes by.

In keeping with the concept vibe, the sounds of a train in full flight acts as a pause before ‘Springfield’ is introduced, almost shyly and reluctantly via a quiet and delicate guitar melody which is quickly taken up by the piano. Electronic sounds make a subtle return but it is the insistent rhythmic beat that makes the biggest impression in the early stages, driving the song towards what ultimately becomes an imposing wall of post rock-inspired sound led by urgent guitars and topped off by Lee’s serene voice almost pleading to the heavens. The track then falls away to conclude in a minimalist manner accompanied by the sounds of waves, distant sirens and the whispers of a male voice.

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Credit: Caroline Traitler – http://www.carolinetraitler.net

‘Ghosts’ then offers one of the most poignant and immediate melodies on the album which is enhanced by a beautiful string arrangement and a beat that together suggests something reminiscent of a film soundtrack. By contrast, ‘Can’t Let Go’ ups the pace and features arguably Vincent’s strongest performance on the entire record. Once again, drummer Cardoso provides the drive to a track that begins in bold fashion but which builds sublimely through a clever injection of rich and vibrant aural textures.

We return to another snippet of action from the central character before we delve into the murky world of ‘Close Your Eyes’, which evokes images in my mind of a dark and smoky backstreet jazz club. I can appreciate the composition and I don’t dislike it but it is by far and away my least favourite track on the album. The fact that a trumpet plays a significant role no doubt feeds my apathy as I continue to fail to warm to brass of any kind in my music.

Any lingering misgivings are short-lived however as ‘The Optimist’ ends in genuinely commanding fashion courtesy of ‘Wildfires’ and the fittingly-titled epic closer, ‘Back To The Start’.

The former has a dark, eerie tone created by the haunting, echoed vocals of Vincent atop the ubiquitous piano which for large portions of the track delivers something monotone, incessant and deliberately uncomfortable. But it works, as does the controlled explosion of sound before another swift descent into a minimalist, thought-provoking abyss.

The album is then brought to a close by the near 12-minute ‘Back To The Start’ and it is nothing short of magical, the perfect way to round out this impressive body of work. The sound of waves gently lapping onto the beach ushers in an aching and gorgeous melody that, when coupled by some devastatingly honest lyrics, threatens to reduce this grown man to tears yet again. I’m not normally someone who likes choral vocals, especially when they have a vague gospel ‘happy’ feel to them, but here, it just sounds right. Perfect in fact. The combination of voices, orchestration and lyrics as the song builds and ultimately reaches its climax is truly epic and a feeling of barely contained euphoria washes over me, bathing me in a warm glow. It’s all too much, so when the final act of the central character follows, I get tingles, chills and all manner of conflicting emotions.

Once again, Anathema have delivered an album that is more to me than just a collection of beautifully and lovingly-crafted songs. It is an album that lives and breathes. It has a vibrancy, an intense raw honesty and a human depth that many strive to deliver but that very few succeed in achieving. Whether or not it ultimately surpasses the last couple of records in terms of my overall enjoyment, only time will tell. For now though, I am content to lose myself in ‘The Optimist’ via its aural magnificence and the emotional succour that it provides to this fragile and damaged soul.

The Score of Much Metal: 9.5

If you’ve enjoyed this review, you can check out my others from previous years and for 2017 right here:

2015 reviews
2016 reviews

Solstafir – Berdreyminn
Dream Evil – Six
Avatarium – Hurricanes And Halos
Ayreon – The Source
Until Rain – Inure
MindMaze – Resolve
God Dethroned – The World Ablaze
Bjorn Riis – Forever Comes To An End
Voyager – Ghost Mile
Big Big Train – Grimspound
Lonely Robot – The Big Dream
Firespawn – The Reprobate
Ancient Ascendant
Pyramaze – Contingent
Shores Of Null – Black Drapes For Tomorrow
Asira – Efference
Hologram Earth – Black Cell Program
Damnations Day – A World Awakens
Memoriam – For The Fallen
Pallbearer – Heartless
Sleepmakeswaves – Made of Breath Only
Ghost Ship Octavius – Ghost Ship Octavius
Vangough – Warpaint
Telepathy – Tempest
Obituary – Obituary
Fen – Winter
Havok – Conformicide
Wolfheart – Tyhjyys
Svart Crown – Abreaction
Nova Collective – The Further Side
Immolation – Atonement
The Mute Gods – Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth
Ex Deo – The Immortal Wars
Pyogenesis – A Kingdom To Disappear
My Soliloquy – Engines of Gravity
Nailed To Obscurity – King Delusion
Helion Prime – Helion Prime
Battle Beast – Bringer Of Pain
Persefone – Aathma
Soen – Lykaia
Exquirla – Para Quienes Aun Viven
Odd Logic – Effigy
Mors Principium Est – Embers Of A Dying World
Firewind – Immortals
Slyde – Back Again EP
Sepultura – Machine Messiah
Deserted Fear – Dead Shores Rising
Kreator – Gods Of Violence
Borealis – World of Silence MMXVII
Pain of Salvation – In The Passing Light of Day

Knifeworld – Bottled Out Of Eden – Album Review

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Artist: Knifeworld

Album Title: Bottled Out Of Eden

Label: InsideOut Records

Date Of Release: 22 April 2016

I vividly remember being confronted with the sounds of Knifeworld for the very first time. It was whilst I wrote for Powerplay Magazine and the album was Knifeworld’s sophomore release, ‘The Unravelling’. I was asked to conduct an interview with the band and so was sent the album in advance for familiarisation and for homework purposes. I remember thinking ‘what the hell is this?’ Then I remember thinking ‘this is utterly nuts’ before finally resting on ‘ok, so this is distinctly odd, but it’s not too shabby actually’. With this in mind, I thought long and hard before deciding whether or not to review its successor, ‘Bottled Out Of Eden’. But here we are.

It is very safe to say that the music of Knifeworld is not going to be for everyone and is sure to divide opinion. In fact, it’s probably likely to scatter opinion right across the spectrum, from utter loathing, to all-out love, from mild panic, to complete confusion and everything in between. You see, Knifeworld are rather unique in the same way that peanut butter and Marmite sandwiches could be considered unique.

Knifeworld is the brainchild of Kavus Torabi but he has surrounded himself with a group of like-minded musicians to bring to life his musical vision; a musical vision that is quite unlike anything I’ve ever heard of before. Joining Torabi then is Melanie Woods (vocals, percussion), Emmett Elvin (keyboards, vocals), Charlie Cawood (bass), Ben Woolacott (drums), Chloe Herrington (bassoon, alto saxophone, vocals), Josh Perl (alto saxophone, clarinet, vocals) and Oliver Sellwood (baritone saxophone).

Credit: Ashley Jones

Credit: Ashley Jones

If you’re looking for an early indication of the kind of music that you’re likely to encounter on ‘Bottled Out Of Eden’, the best I can give you is the rather convoluted but ultimately inept description of prog rock meets jazz meets avant-garde meets ska meets psychedelia meets pop…meets…well, meets just about anything and everything to be honest. Nothing is off limits it appears.

As a result, ‘Bottled Out Of Eden’ is pretty much the most challenging album that I’ve ever had to review and kudos to the octet for that alone. It is challenging in terms of the sheer variety of music on offer but also this has been challenging to write because of my own internal conflicts. On the one hand, I find it difficult to say that I enjoy this album, because I’m not convinced that I do. I do though find it strangely compelling and, in the same way that I can’t help staring at giant spiders despite my terror towards them, I’m drawn in to ‘Bottled Out Of Eden’ via a similar morbid fascination.

However, it would be foolish of me in the extreme not to doff my cap to the band for creating something so out-of-the-ordinary and challenging. Despite all of the idiosyncrasies, all of the jarring juxtaposing musical ideas and all of the sheer randomness, there’s no denying that in its own way, ‘Bottled Out Of Eden’ is a cohesive and well put together record, with a surprising flow and an understanding of exactly what it wants to be. It wants to screw with your mind, it wants to challenge the listener and it wants to confront each of your senses, seemingly all at once. But it also wants to sound accessible and immediate in its own inimitable fashion.

‘The Unravelling’ was quite a dark and disturbing record and to a certain extent, there is a thread of darkness that runs through ‘Bottled Out Of Eden’. Mind you, with a lyrical theme that is apparently inspired by the death of loved ones, that’s hardly surprising. And yet, I also get the distinct impression that this is generally a more upbeat and lighter record than the last.

Opener ‘High / Aflame’ is actually, given time, a rather jaunty and soaring track with plenty of catchy melodies lurking underneath the quirkiness. I’ve never been a fan of brass in my music save for a few exceptions and so my ears rebel against the bassoon and saxophone embellishments whilst they embrace the strong lush layers of keyboards and the interesting rhythm section.

Then there are Torabi’s vocals; he is joined throughout by Woods, Elvin, Herrington and Perl but Torabi is clearly the lead vocalist for Knifeworld. And you’re either going to love or hate him given his distinctive delivery. Against moments of near discordant instrumentation, such as within ‘The Germ Inside’, Torabi seems to deliberately add further discomfort to the ear by appearing flat or picking notes that clash with the sounds around him. At other times, his approach is surprisingly subtle, melodious and full of emotion. ‘I Am Lost’ sees him at his melodious best for example, as does the sensitive and rather lovely acoustic guitar-led ‘Foul Temple’ or the equally beautiful and emotional ‘Secret Words’.

‘The Deathless’ is ushered in on a strong beat and later benefits from a hefty bass line but it is the vocals that draw my admiration most strongly. It sounds bizarre but the almost tribal-sounding vocals remind me of something vaguely African, perhaps even an unreleased track off the Lion King soundtrack. See, I can be a bit odd too! Coupled with a lovely recurring melody, I do genuinely like this song and return to it frequently.

The oddly-monikered ‘I Must Set Fire To Your Portrait’ is musically as bonkers as its title whilst also being one of the heaviest compositions on the album. ‘Lowered Into Necromancy’ is another schizophrenic-sounding piece of music, lurching from powerful and jarring to serene and majestic in the blink of an eye. However, the fact that the brass takes a break means that it is one of my favourites too. Then there’s ‘A Dream About A Dream’ which features a gorgeous piano melody within the surrounding melee that I am undeniably drawn to.

And so somehow, almost unbelievably, the more I listen to this record, the more I like it, almost in spite of myself. I said earlier that I’m not entirely sure that I enjoy ‘Bottled Out Of Eden’. Well, on balance, I probably think that I do and, the more I listen, the more certain about this I suspect I will become. This revelation actually comes as a bit of a surprise, to the point that I can feel my eyebrows rise as I type this very sentence.

I love complicated and technically complex music so long as it has heart, beauty and honesty. Knifeworld has all three and even though there are certain ingredients within this record that I really don’t like and wish weren’t present, it is as if I can ignore these elements and focus on those things that I do like. The brass, the ska-like inflections, the forays into deliberate cacophony and discordance the hand-clapping and occasionally Torabi’s oddball vocal delivery – I can cope with all of these because underneath them all are strong melodies, intelligent musical ideas and a clever blend of fun and deadly seriousness.

Well, there you are, I’ve even surprised myself and almost changed my mind mid review. But then, this is a review of an album from Knifeworld, so a slightly perverse conclusion is probably about as fitting as it’s possible to get.

The Score Of Much Metal: 8.5

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others right here:

Novembre – Ursa
Beholder – Reflections
Neverworld – Dreamsnatcher
Universal Mind Project – The Jaguar Priest
Thunderstone – Apocalypse Again
InnerWish – Innerwish
Mob Rules – Tales From Beyond
Ghost Bath – Moonlover
Spiritual Beggars – Sunrise To Sundown
Oceans Of Slumber – Winter
Rikard Zander – I Can Do Without Love
Redemption – The Art Of Loss
Headspace – All That You Fear Is Gone
Chris Quirarte – Mending Broken Bridges
Sunburst – Fragments Of Creation
Inglorious – Inglorious
Omnium Gatherum – Grey Heavens
Structural Disorder – Distance
Votum – Ktonik
Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
Rikard Sjoblom – The Unbendable Sleep
Textures – Phenotype
Serenity – Codex Atlanticus
Borknagar – Winter Thrice
The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
Brainstorm – Scary Creatures
Arcade Messiah – II
Phantasma – The Deviant Hearts
Rendezvous Point – Solar Storm
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II
Antimatter – The Judas Table
Bauda – Sporelights
Waken Eyes – Exodus
Earthside – A Dream In Static
Caligula’s Horse – Bloom
Teramaze – Her Halo
Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud
Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle
Agent Fresco – Destrier
Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic
Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches
Disarmonia Mundi – Cold Inferno
District 97 – In Vaults
Progoctopus – Transcendence
Big Big Train – Wassail
NightMare World – In The Fullness Of Time
Helloween – My God-Given Right
Triaxis – Zero Hour
Isurus – Logocharya
Arcturus – Arcturian
Kamelot – Haven
Native Construct – Quiet World
Sigh – Graveward
Pantommind – Searching For Eternity
Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar
Klone – Here Comes The Sun
The Gentle Storm – The Diary
Melechesh – Enki
Enslaved – In Times
Keep Of Kalessin – Epistemology
Lonely Robot – Please Come Home
The Neal Morse Band – The Grand Experiment
Zero Stroke – As The Colours Seep
AudioPlastik – In The Head Of A Maniac
Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints
Mors Principium Est – Dawn of The 5th Era
Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah
Triosphere – The Heart Of The Matter
Neonfly – Strangers In Paradise
Knight Area – Hyperdrive
Haken – Restoration
James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld

Oceans Of Slumber – Winter – Album Review

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Artist: Oceans Of Slumber

Album Title: Winter

Label: Century Media Records

Date of Release: 4 March 2016

I am forever listening to artists in the more commercial music spheres and saying things like ‘I bet he/she would sound better with a crunching riff behind them’ or ‘what a waste of talent, they should be singing on top of far better music than that’. It frustrates those around me no end, leading some to even refer to me as a narrow-minded music snob. I don’t necessarily disagree and these comments are usually met with an amused glint in my eye. After all, I’m guilty as charged.

However, if there’s ever a band or artist to prove my point, it’s Oceans Of Slumber and their vocalist Cammie Gilbert. This lady has a voice that is soulful and melodic, but also powerful and full of attitude. She is the kind of vocalist that could potentially sing anything, be it pop, rock, soul, you name it. In fact, it isn’t hard to imagine her doing such a thing. And yet, here she is, fronting an extreme metal band. And I’m vindicated, because she sounds brilliant.

Naturally, with such a vocalist, the remainder of Oceans Of Slumber could be plunged into the abyss of obscurity. But they are not; far from it.

Oceans of Slumber are difficult to categorise when it comes to the music itself. There are elements of death, symphonic, doom and progressive metal, not to mention touches of folk, alt rock and a plethora of other ideas. The result is ‘Winter’ the Texan sextet’s sophomore album and it’s a bit of a belter if I’m honest. Some might deride the band for trying too much or for lacking a clearer focus. I prefer to look at it from the perspective that Oceans Of Slumber are enthusiastic and ambitious, willing to try their hand at whatever they think would further a composition and take it from the humdrum to something interesting and engaging. Surely, that’s one of the cornerstones of properly progressive music?

Photo credit: Jeremy Pierson

Photo credit: Jeremy Pierson

As I sit and write this review, I have one question firmly in my mind: do I like this album? The answer is ‘yes’ and the more I listen, the more forcefully and enthusiastically I reply.

The title track opens ‘Winter’ and it is arguably one of the best tracks on the album. It drips with emotion, the melodies are a thing of understated beauty and there’s a sombre atmosphere that permeates throughout, heightened by a rich, clear production. As it develops, the heaviness subtly increases too, albeit remaining interspersed between the quieter more reflective moments. The aforementioned vocals are captivating; unique and the perfect counterpoint to the growls that appear in the second half of the track. The guitar tones are satisfyingly muscular and the drumming displays plenty of variety and finesse within a complex composition.

The cover of the somewhat over-played and saturated ‘Nights In White Satin’ is good but not essential and can be forgiven thanks to what surrounds it. ‘Devout’ is a generally furious blast beat-ridden beast where extreme metal flirts with vocals that are melodic and soothing one moment, then full of angst the next. The slower, more considered mid-section is complimented by a moody guitar solo, an intelligent rhythm section and more sophisticated melody. ‘Lullaby’ on the other hand is just that – a short and quiet Celtic-inspired piece dominated by sensitive, ethereal vocals which leads into the exquisite ‘Laid To Rest’. Another short piece, this one is brought to life by some gorgeous acoustic guitar work and an emotional melody.

Elsewhere, ‘Suffer The Last Bridge’ stands out thanks to more great vocals and a demonstrable modern alternative hard rock vibe where the bass guitar really comes into its own. ‘Turpentine’ ends with a quirky jazz-like flourish that is a surprise given the preceding four minutes whilst ‘Apologue’ is a fast, aggressive beast dominated by fast blast beats and intense growled vocals, complimented by a variety of riff styles. There are chugging death/doom influenced riffs, a more modern-sounding guitar attack that verges on beat-down territory as well as a more staccato black metal delivery.

Undeniably, ‘Winter’ is a huge step up for Oceans Of Slumber from their debut ‘Aetherial’. The flow of the album could perhaps be better as the momentum of the record is slightly compromised in the mid-section. And thanks to the sheer variety and willingness to experiment, the cohesiveness of the record is frequently tested. That said, there are far more positives than negatives to take from ‘Winter’, to the point where I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending this album to anyone who will listen to me.

The Score Of Much Metal: 8.5

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others right here:

Rikard Zander – I Can Do Without Love
Redemption – The Art Of Loss
Headspace – All That You Fear Is Gone
Chris Quirarte – Mending Broken Bridges
Sunburst – Fragments Of Creation
Inglorious – Inglorious
Omnium Gatherum – Grey Heavens
Structural Disorder – Distance
Votum – Ktonik
Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
Rikard Sjoblom – The Unbendable Sleep
Textures – Phenotype
Serenity – Codex Atlanticus
Borknagar – Winter Thrice
The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
Brainstorm – Scary Creatures
Arcade Messiah – II
Phantasma – The Deviant Hearts
Rendezvous Point – Solar Storm
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II
Antimatter – The Judas Table
Bauda – Sporelights
Waken Eyes – Exodus
Earthside – A Dream In Static
Caligula’s Horse – Bloom
Teramaze – Her Halo
Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud
Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle
Agent Fresco – Destrier
Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic
Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches
Disarmonia Mundi – Cold Inferno
District 97 – In Vaults
Progoctopus – Transcendence
Big Big Train – Wassail
NightMare World – In The Fullness Of Time
Helloween – My God-Given Right
Triaxis – Zero Hour
Isurus – Logocharya
Arcturus – Arcturian
Kamelot – Haven
Native Construct – Quiet World
Sigh – Graveward
Pantommind – Searching For Eternity
Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar
Klone – Here Comes The Sun
The Gentle Storm – The Diary
Melechesh – Enki
Enslaved – In Times
Keep Of Kalessin – Epistemology
Lonely Robot – Please Come Home
The Neal Morse Band – The Grand Experiment
Zero Stroke – As The Colours Seep
AudioPlastik – In The Head Of A Maniac
Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints
Mors Principium Est – Dawn of The 5th Era
Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah
Triosphere – The Heart Of The Matter
Neonfly – Strangers In Paradise
Knight Area – Hyperdrive
Haken – Restoration
James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld