Released: 2009, Earache Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
There’s an old Rolaids antacid commercial where the tag line was “how do you spell relief?” with the answer being obviously Rolaids. Well if you swap “relief” for “friggin’ heavy,” the answer to that question becomes Oceano. Admittedly, the whole deathcore scene doesn’t do much for me, but Oceano’s debut release DEPTHS is just so convincingly heavy, that it’s the aural equivalent of the band punching the rest of the ‘core scene in the back of its collective head repeatedly until its nose bleeds. Not bad for five young bucks from Chicago, eh?
Guitars tuned waaay down, double bass blast beats, and an inhuman vocal performance fill the 13 tracks on DEPTHS. All right, so the band isn’t breaking any new ground, but as I’ve often said, it’s the delivery that defines a band’s performance. And what Oceano lacks in technicality, they make up for in sheer brutality and conviction. Much of the credit is due to vocalist Adam Warren. This guy is just sick. Running the gamut from sub-guttural snarls to piercing shrieks, he delivers the type of rampaging vocal performance that Chris Barnes used to be able to. The rest of the credit is due to the drop-A tuned guitars that are super bottom heavy, but still retain enough crunch to not sound sloppy.
Conceptually, the band treads familiar territory – death, murder, devils, dismemberment; all good stuff. Lots of starts and stops, artificial harmonics in the guitars, and ominous rhythms abound here, but there’s plenty of variety within that formula. “Inhuman Affliction,” “Samael the Destroyer,” and the title track offer some more ethereal moments to contrast the constant pummeling of tunes like “Inhuman Affliction” or “Fractured Frames, Scattered Flesh.” For what it’s worth, the band’s been getting some decent rotation of their video for “District of Misery” on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. While not the best cut on the album, it’s a good cross section of what Oceano have to offer on DEPTHS.
The inclusion of some guitar solos would have added additional color to the tracks, but could also have consequently detracted from the overall punishing vibe of DEPTHS. This is a great first offering from a young band with a fire in its belly. Kudos to Earache Records for not only signing more extreme bands like Oceano again, but for doing their part to promote an album that deserves it. DEPTHS isn’t perfect and is sure to have its detractors, but for if you’re looking for a solid beat down, Oceano are poised to oblige.