The Ocean’s Precambrian; under the microscope
On a scale never before seen on The Monolith, we’ll be dedicating much of this week to a theme. We had Instrumental Music Week earlier this year, which was a lot of fun, but never before have we done something on this scale.
The reason for this devastating dedication? The Ocean, Germany’s premier progressive metal band, are releasing their sixth studio album Pelagial this week, and so in honour we’ll be taking a look at all things ocean-related in the realm of heavy music this week – not just for The Ocean, mind, but for all manner of aquatically-aligned bands, musicians, artists and albums.
In place of our usual Calm Before The Storm posts we’ll be taking a look at each of The Ocean’s previous studio full-lengths; highlighting a few core songs and generally brown-nosing them to the edge of the sevens seas.
Third up: Precambrian [2007, Metal Blade Records]
Named for the earliest and longest era of earth’s formation – from the very beginning, and for about 7/8ths of its history – right when macroscopic hard-shelled animals first appeared in abundance. This is a fancy, roundabout way of saying that its scope is bleeding massive, and not least of all because it’s a huge double album. Whereas Fluxion and Aeolian form a pair, they were put out separately, wheras Precambrian is one unified release (albeit across two distinct discs).
The first disc – Hadean/Achean – is the shorter, more immediate of the two, and ironically is named for the two longest sub-sections of the precambrian era. Its punch is immediately felt, like the volatile geological era for which it is named, with ”Hadean: Hadean“. At 3:38, it is the only track for the Hadean era, and it’s all you need really. Heavy, expansive and pummeling, it sets you up nicely for the rest of what is essentially a 22-minute EP.
Track 01: “Hadean: Hadean“
The second disc – Proterozoic – is where the real meat is for me, however. It takes its time. It builds. It takes you out for a nice steak dinner before slipping off its slinky black dress and throwing back the sheets.
It takes about two minutes and an entire track before there’s any vocals – vocals which are sung, not screamed – and the tempo is much, much slower.
Track 07: “III. Palaeoproterozoic: Rhyacian“
It’s not without its intensity however. Vocals are screamed sometimes, and the entire affair is accented by overlaid samples (the Kevin Spacey sample from The Life of David Gale at the beginning of “III. Palaeoproterozoic: Statherian” is a particular favourite). Pianos, strings, and more lull the listener into serenity…which is why when it does break into the heavier stuff, it’s oh so much sweeter.
The two halves are quite different, but the combined effect is for something greater than its parts, and it was this album that truly made me fall in love with The Ocean.
Check back every day this week for another look at one of The Ocean’s LPs, as well as the rest of the content we have planned for this week! Check the section below on every article for what we’ve done so far.
The Ocean Week content so far: