The Ocean // Anthropocentric
Rating: 2.5/5.0 —On the ‘meh’ side.
Label: Metal Blade
Websites: |
Release Dates: EU: 05.11.2010 | US: 11.09.2010

I gotta say up front that I am not a big fan of sludge, I mean, you should be forewarned of this. So when I first heard The Ocean‘s controversial (and apparently much hated) opus Heliocentric I was really happy about it. It was way more shoegaze or post-hardcore than it was sludge or anything really coming near to it. Short on the hardcore and tall on the clean vocals, I was impressed. I gave it a 4.5/5.0 and I stand by that (in spite of the incessant whining of jilted fans). So I was pretty interested to take a listen to the follow-up Anthropocentric. And my worst fears were confirmed: they pulled an Opeth. Soft record. Heavy record. Blech. Anyone else ever notice that this never works?

So, let me say that the things I really enjoyed about Heliocentric were the beautiful melodies and the interesting choices of topics. This was everything that the fans hated, so they’ll be happy to know that the boring has creeped its way back onto this album. While there are still some interesting vocals, it’s for the most part just long songs, boring riffs and “RAH RAH RAH”. I don’t find this remotely entertaining, and it lacks the sensibility of what I think was a really stellar previous album that had a lot of subtlety and, god forbid, taste.

These things aren’t completely gone on this record, but where the last album handled things with some general class, Anthropocentric falls short. One place where I noticed this was in the lyrics. Where Heliocentric was sometimes inartful, Anthropocentric is lyrically trite. And the music falls short, too. Parts that should be sorta progressive and neat seem contrived and then there’s the “sludge”. I think it’s boring. Fans? They’re stoked.

To be honest, there isn’t much more to actually say about this album. There are hits and misses here. I really loved the track “For He that Wavereth…” which is definitely in the vein of Heliocentric. But I find the “You are trying to save me…” lines from the 3 “Grand Inquisitor” songs to be kinda cheesy and over-the-top. Though, again, it works alright in the second one (“The Grand Inquisitor II: Roots & Locusts”), but where there are convincing melodies, they’re followed up by repetitive crap that kills the song.

You know what? This just isn’t my thing. But it’s probably your thing if you’re out looking for The Ocean reviews. So why don’t you go out and buy it and if you don’t like it you can send me hate mail. Anyway, if I were to suggest one of the two records this band has released this year, I’d definitely recommend Heliocentric over this one. It’s just a better record.

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  • antilight

    No hatemail from me.

    I am a big fan of The Ocean, and while I haven’t had much chance to listen to either album, I do gotta say one thing: Opinion!

    Your “review” is your opinion. Give it a 0 if you want. I applaud the fact that you at least give your opinion and state it as such. Hooray for free will and free speech!

    • Hi there! Let me clarify something: ALL review by EVERYONE is opinion. The idea that pointing out that a review is an opinion is like pointing out that the earth is round or that it goes around the sun (see how I tied that back to The Ocean? HUH!? HUH!?!?!?). What a totally banal and unnecessary observation.

      It’s really quite funny how often I get this “observation”.

  • Barry Neilson

    Will be checking this out… I have two of their albums so far, Precambrian and Heliocentric….and out of those two I prefer Heliocentric; but I am still willing to give this one a go. There is one part of your review I disagree with however, and that is this comment that a soft/heavy record doesn’t work. Especially since you used Opeth as an example! Both Damnation and Devlierance are awesome!

  • I have to agree perfectly with what you said. I just listened to these two records last night and my thoughts mirror your own. I have never been a big fan of The Ocean, finding it too atmospheric in the past. I threw on Heliocentric just to have some background noise as I unwound from a day at work and I was blown away by what I heard. I immediately listened to Anthropocentric, hoping that it would follow in the same vein and was greatly dissapointed when it didn’t. It’s still an alright album, better then anything else I’ve heard from The Ocean. But it’s no Heliocentric.
    Not being a huge fan of sludge myself, this is the kind of sludge I can tolerate – not too growly or screamy. I wrote two articles on my own blog about this (not going to be out for a couple of weeks, I keep a steady backlog of articles), but yours matches up perfectly.

    I just found Angry Metal Guy a week or so ago and I like what you do! Keep it up, I’ll be checking in often.

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