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Oceanica - OneDark Award winner

by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 10 September 2019, 2:15 AM

OCEANICA is a Progressive Rock/Metal/Ambient project from ENOCHIAN THEORY frontman Ben Harris-Hayes. His style of song writing and engaging stage performances have been praised by many artists, such as, STEVEN WILSON and BRUCE DICKINSON, and championed in printed and online press by PROG, Metal Hammer (UK, Germany, Greece), Eclipse, Powerplay, Rock Hard and many more from around the world. The release of “OneDark” sparks the start of a three-album cycle of varying progressive music. Ben wrote, recorded, and performed all the instruments on these albums.

“Youth” is a short instrumental opener that segues into “Overcome,” picking up that nice melody pattern and running with it. The piano parts are hauntingly beautiful and when the guitar riff comes in it bursts with energy. Ben’s soft and soothing voice are all you need to be swept away from your worries and cares. It picks up in heavy layers at the end but does not lose that alluring sound. “All the Cool Kids R Doin’ it” opens with a heavy accent of galloping guitar riffs and drums. The vocals are dreamy a-la ASTRONOID, but the harsh vocals provide an unexpected bite. “Amounting to Nothing” is another dreamy song that has minimal instrumentation at first, but then the darkness creeps in. The lyrics read “because through all of your stresses and your worries, they amount to…NOTHING! So live! And sing! And love!…and just be…

“Start from the Start” has a nice springy, jovial melody. The harmonized vocals create a really full sound. It sure is easy on the ears and easy to enjoy as well, as is the guitar solo which follows the melody line perfectly. Ben’s lyrical messages are positive as well. “Oubliette” opens with bass guitar notes and some ambiance from keys and other programming. This song is a little darker, leaving the listener open to some interpretation. “Got a Feeling” is a three-minute track, full of delicate melodies. He croons “screaming out into the city…chanting words unto the oceans…the leaking lights of past rights swim amongst the wrongs…and now I’m seeing so much better than I’ve ever done!  “Towards the Sun” is a short song opening with female vocals, a slight tone of dissonance. This is an odd song that was hard for me to connect with.

“8” represents more of the darker side of the album. “King of the listless and lord of the vain, feeding the sickness, perpetuates the lie. Towering infernos that reach to the sky…divide and isolate…shock and awe…I was 8…” Something very personal must have happened to young Ben at this age. The music is reflective of some anger and confusion. “Reverence” is a faster moving song with ethereal vocals in the verses and a big, rich chorus. Remembrance is a key lyrical theme to the song. “The Rose, Abloom” opens with a full melody and really gets your blood pumping. I love his lyrics in this song, and I am usually not one for lyrics necessarily. “And when the river is high…I hold my own. And when they river is dry…Love them bones.” The music keeps pace with a lot of positive sounds. It almost has a Post-Rock feeling to it.

“The Entangled Roots of…” is just a thirty second into with spoken female voice to the final track, “The Oblivion Tree.” It opens with charming piano notes and minimal instrumentation. It settles into a slow cadence with drums and some background ambiance. It builds with layers and a positive message…“you are love…and by the moon…and in the distance…we’ve not lost your way…breathe…peace.” Overall, I love the album, and can see why Ben has the accolades to go along with his music. It’s a very positive and personal sounding album, but always with a message of hope. Lush with melodies, rich with atmosphere and depth…a good album takes you on a journey to a place far away from your worries and troubles. That’s what this album did for me. I really enjoyed being immersed in Ben’s world for the time of the ride, and to know that I can go back there any time fills me with joy.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 10
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Youth
2. Overcome
3. All the Cool Kids R Doin’ it
4. Amounting to Nothing
5. Start from the Start
6. Oubliette
7. Got a Feeling
8. Towards the Sun
9. 8
10. Reverence
11. The Rose, Abloom
12. The Entangled Roots of…
13. The Oblivion Tree
Ben Harris-Hayes - All Instrumentation and Production
Record Label: Progressive Gears


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Edited 21 September 2020

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