Once an ever revolving collective of musicians and artists, The Ocean have established themselves as a band with guitarist Robin Staps as the main leader and creative force. They’re known for their intricate and artistic brand of post-rock/metal with progressive tendencies. Just as with Fluxion/Aeolian their latest effort is another two-disc behemoth in the form of Heliocentric and Anthropocentric. Subject of this article is Heliocentric, the more subtle and quieter of the two.
Both Heliocentric and Anthropocentric are tied together by the same concept, which basically shapes up as a critique on the dogmatic rejection of religion in general when it comes to embracing new scientific theories and discoveries. Some may find this concept incredibly bloated, but I welcome records with this kind of lyrical substance. It gives you something to think about and it adds interesting dimensions to the overall listening experience of an album.
The far-fetched lyrical themes are matched by the experimental, diverse and progressive nature of the music. With small hints to Mastodon, Isis and Intronaut this album works its way through a thrilling post-core/progressive adventure with Firmament, The First Commandment Of The Luminaries, Metaphysics Of The Hangman, Swallowed By The Earth and The Origin Of The Species being the centerpieces. The brilliance of Heliocentric lays within the layered character of the music, the use of different dynamics within the individual songs and the overall brilliant arrangements. Together with the general lyrical concept the aforementioned elements greatly strengthen the progressive feel of Heliocentric.
There is also room for more quiet compositions such as Ptolemy Was Wrong, Catharsis Of A Heretic and Epiphany, which are mostly carried by piano and a string section. It’s on these songs where singer Loïc Rossetti really shines with his warm and versatile voice. Those songs also act as a nice counterbalance to harsher songs such as the aforementioned Firmament, Metaphysics Of A Hangman and The Origin Of The Species.
Heliocentric by The Ocean is just as experimental, offbeat and progressive as the title would suggest. Despite its assumed lighter character it still takes several listening sessions before the true beauty of this album reveals itself. Heliocentric demands time and patience, but aren’t those kinds of records often the most memorable ones? Brilliant stuff!
written by Raymond Westland