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The Ocean Collective – Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic/Cenozoic Award winner

The Ocean Collective
Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic/Cenozoic
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 27 August 2020, 8:00 AM

THE OCEAN COLLECTIVE was founded by guitarist Robin Staps at the turn of the century. Over the last two decades, the band have been in a perpetual state of evolution, releasing a steady succession of groundbreaking and acclaimed albums that have all sought to push heavy music forward, embracing the cerebral, the primal and the inexplicable in equal measure. “Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic/Cenozoic” contains eight new tracks.

“Triassic” opens the album…at over eight minutes in length. It opens with clean, but solemn guitars. Thick bass guitar notes come in, then clean vocals. Then comes the heaviness and harsh vocals. The clean vocal passages create this mesmerizing feeling, but the distorted guitars are very heavy and aggressive. The sound varies in the two styles throughout, creating a sense of temperance. “Jurassic-Cretaceous” is a beast, at over 13 minutes in length. It opens with heavy thuds and accents. It takes a while before the main sound develops. The clean vocals ease you into the track, with Progressive rhythms. The harsh vocals are like a coiled snake, striking out in anger. There is a lot of time to build some ambiance with subtle melodies as well. Like GOJIRA, they have also mastered the craft of sterile elements that can also be strangely warm.

“Palaeocene” is short, concise four-minute song. Leading with harsh vocals and heavy guitars, there is a heightened sense of anger and haste. Suddenly and without warning, the sound drops to just bass guitar, some clean guitars and background ambiance. You can feel it coiling for another strike, and strike it does. “Eocene” is another short track, opening with clean guitars and vocals and a bit of melody. The vocal harmonies here and ethereal and bright. “Oligocene” is another shorter song, brimming with melodies. Dare I say, it’s actually pretty, but also dark. Smooth and mellow, it makes you feel melancholy. “Miocene-Pliocene” has a slow, lumbering riff and harsh, somewhat muted vocals. When the main riff hits, it hits hard, followed by clean vocals. It’s the transitions that make impact here.

“Pleistocene” begins with low, dark tones. The clean vocals are misery-laden. The heavy guitars and vocals follow, and I am reminded a bit of RIVERS OF NIHIL. Towards the end, the sound picks up into a crescendo of instruments and angry, raging vocals. “Holocene” closes the album. It opens with low, muted strikes along with some building atmosphere. Soft, pensive clean vocals come into play, along with some dark melodies. The vocals develop into harmonies, with cello, and it’s quite charming.

Overall, the album left quite an impression on me. Dark and angry at times, and light and almost playful at other times, it’s the transitions that are the key to making these two competing elements work as well as they do. I’ve heard a lot of Metal lately in this style where they did not handle the transitions well. It’s obvious that this band are veteran musicians, because they are able to turn it up or dial is back at just the right time. The atmospheres created are wonderful as well.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 9


4 Star Rating

1. Triassic
2. Jurassic-Cretaceous
3. Palaeocene
4. Eocene
5. Oligocene
6. Miocene-Pliocene
7. Pleistocene
8. Holocene
Robin Staps – Guitars
Tomas Liljedahl – Vocals
Jonas Renkse – Vocals
Paul Seidel – Drums
Peter Voigtmann – Keyboards
Mattias Hägerstrand – Bass
David Ramis Ahfeldt – Guitars 
Record Label: Metal Blade Records


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Edited 27 March 2023

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