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Review: Oceano – Ascendants

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The Windy City 5-piece deathcore band Oceano is back in action after their unsatisfactory release “Incisions” with the way better “Ascendants”. This album is available to purchase on iTunes, Earache Records, and Amazon. Alternatively, it can be streamed on YouTube or Spotify.

I’m still astounded as to the substantial change in sound from “Incisions” to “Ascendants”. I really can not stand “Incisions” due to its uninteresting writing style, the terrible and distracting production/mixing, and the cringe-worthy clean vocals that do not fit the bold, heavy, and unrelenting sound of Oceano. I was super hyped for said album after hearing “Slow Murder” because the lyric video actually had a nice production and sound that was completely different from the actual album version.

This alteration for the worst made me a huge skeptic and critic of Oceano until they shut me up for good with “Ascendants”, which is definitely their heaviest album to date. It’s dark, grim, brooding, hopeless deathcore that churns my brain and stomach; it is almost sickening that guitars can get so low in pitch with such an excellent amount of clarity. Not only are the drums fast and essentially robotic, but Adam Warren drops painfully low and beautiful gutturals on this behemoth of an album. Warren also demonstrates an impressive range of vocals throughout the songs, executed in interesting rhythms at points that assures me that he is a talented lyricist and, in turn, vocalist. It’s some really outstanding work on the whole band’s part though, and their focused energy aided in the production of a really, really, REALLY tight and intriguing album.

“Nephilim” eerily begins with inexplicably strange and ominous sounds that gives way to a monstrous blast beat and breakdown that is enticing and beyond heavy. The depth of the low vocals is utterly outstanding and it launches the band into the next track, “Transient Gateways”. This song almost has a bouncing quality to it that makes the music fun and exciting… until the demolisher of a breakdown completely crushes the listener’s ears. More blast beats ensue into a nice djent-inspired chug with accompaniment by creepy, avant-garde chords. This song rips to the end with a pretty sweet guitar shred until the menacingly destructive intro of “The World Engine” takes over. Utilizing the same dark tone of their sickening guitars and bass, the song builds up to several note-worthy breakdowns of absolute chaos with rigid, nimble, and driving drumlines throughout.

“Dead Planet”, the band’s first single from the album, is a well-constructed and composed piece with pristine lyrics and an absolute mosh-worthy atmosphere. Chugs, gutturals/high screams, and intriguing build-ups into fantastically dreary and dark breakdowns makes the song an excellent choice for their single. A catchy anthemic ending of “This is a dead planet, it’s fucking worthless” is amusingly accurate and entertaining to scream along to, making the song an obvious favorite for a lot of people. However, every time I hear this ending drag on and on, whether live or on my phone, it leads me to believe that the ending is too redundant and long. It is not a substantial problem, nor does it completely detract from this prestigious track.

Now the next two songs on the album, “The Taken” and “Dawn of Descent”, are my absolute favorite tunes on the album. I can never decide which I like more because they are both just over-the-top heavy and mind-blowingly bodacious, creating two masterpieces that give me a reason to headbang with a distinctive excitement and anger. “The Taken” is fast and full of tangible, pissed-off energy highlighted by the deepest gutturals and craziest slams to ever be concocted by Oceano. The lyrics and music video are also eerie, invoking the thoughts of being captured by alien life, only to be probed and hurt, then released back on Earth as one of the taken. The finishing lyrics  “A mutilated possession. Internally violated, mentally numbed. This encounter won’t return you. The true Gods have new purpose for you” leave me drained and mentally number myself, horrified at the thought of such tragic pain.

“Dawn of Descent” embodies the qualities of an apocalyptic ending of the world that is anathematic, crushing, and hateful towards our world. “Cherish one last night before humanity’s lost forever”, “ Dispelling organized religion as a fraud, society loses direction once it’s lost its hold. Witness the blood of riots flood the streets, triggered by desperation disbelief” and more demonstrates some of the finest lyrical work I’ve ever heard. Groove, uniquely written guitar riffs, and accelerated drum fills pour out into a tragic venom of beautifully brutal deathcore. The song is disgusting and repulsive by nature, which gets me beyond pumped up and angry. Every fine, minute detail was taken into account, tweaked, and delivered with the utmost brilliance. The album SHOULD have just stopped there.

Unfortunately, Oceano kept going to push out “The Dulce Incident”, “Arc of Creation”, and “External Existence”. Although these songs are not bad by any means, they tend to blend into one mediocre piece of music when compared to the desolation of the songs beforehand. These last three songs are easily forgotten in my eyes, although they each have at least one intriguing quality (which are typically their corresponding introductions) that fades into some bland chugging that attributes to an ordinary, slightly uninteresting sound. These last few songs are a definite disappointment, but “External Existence” has one final breakdown where Warren yells “Death is not the end” that is a suitable and pseudo-satisfactory finish to the album.

In the end, Oceano will most likely never be able to make an album as perfect as their debut, “Depths”. However, they are unquestionably capable of writing some really solid songs (especially when compared to “Incisions”). I like “Ascendants” a whole lot though, and the sheer brutality and excellence found in those first six songs are worthy of being hailed as some of Oceano’s best works. I would even go as far as to say this album triumphs over “Contagion”, their sophomore release. The album is worth a listen if you have enjoyed Oceano in the past, or if you are a fan of I Declare War, Whitechapel, and Thy Art is Murder. After seeing them perform these songs live as well, I would also recommend seeing them on the All Stars tour this summer (although I would NOT advise going for any other bands with the exception of  Within the Ruins and I Wrestled a Bear Once).

Rate: 8/10

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