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Album Review: OCEANO Ascendants

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Oceano has now released three separate albums since they formed in 2006. On March 23rd, 2015, their fourth and newest album, Ascendants, will be released. Their extreme metal (deathcore) style is nothing new or different, although the heavy and brutal aspects, coupled with spectacular vocals was enough to bring me back with interest. There were also two very intriguing selections that were released earlier in the year that sparked curiosity, could Oceano be exploring new areas of their sub genre?

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This Chicago, Illinois based band has no remaining original members. Their newer additions include Michael Kasper (Dead To Fall) and Scott Smith (Carnivale) on guitars. This is partly what intrigued me to check this album out. To observe these new additions and what growth would occur. Their vocalist, Adam Warren, has been with them the longest, and is definitely the new founding member since everyone else has been replaced within the past year and a half.

Before we get started, I would like to explain part of my review process. Upon receiving music and before doing the actual writing of the review, I will listen to the album a minimum of 10 times through. Most albums end up between 12-16 listens. If they are great, more like 20. Ascendants was lucky and got 26, and this was not because it was good or great. It was because I was searching for what was stated in their brief release statement, presumably written by Earache Records:

"Taking steps into previously unexplored territory, Ascendants is a concept album transcending the norms of most modern metal acts. Within stand out tracks “Dead planet", "Transient gateways” and “Dawn of Descent”, eerie atmospherics come to the fore. Ascendants is Oceano’s most focused effort to date, giving the album a greater intensity and deeper sense of purpose. Rediscovering their niche, Ascendants is the definitive Oceano experience. Oceano has truly experienced an awakening and with it they hold the key album to re-define their genre."

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Why did this search take so long? Because after hearing down-tuned chug after down-tuned chug, my mind wandered, making it difficult to pay attention and focus on the intricate developments. The simple rhythms allows one to tune out and become distracted. It was not unusual to notice that music had ceased, and I had not noticed an entire play through. Upon the discovery of these new developments, they were good, and I applaud the evolution that has occurred, but it was outweighed by the slow, relentless chugs that is still what mainly comes to mind. The three tracks mentioned in the description, “Dead planet", "Transient Gateways” and “Dawn of Descent” are excellent examples of what the entire album should be. Outside these tracks, we have Depths 2.0.

The new members breathe life into this band. The atmospherics are great, and they tie melodic chugging (yes Oceano does pull it off) into their structure which diversifies their formula wonderfully. Again, just not enough. The vocals are outstanding, brutally diverse, which is a must for deathcore these days. The mood is set, their sound is recognizable (for better or worse) and they are great at what they do.

If you really enjoy deathcore, this is a must buy album. If you're looking for a heavy album to jam to once in a while, Ascendants would be a great choice. To be able "to re-define their genre" though, Oceano will have to capitalize greatly on their progress made thus far on this album and take the risk it seems they've only dipped their toes into on Ascendants. Good progress, and positive growth, I just wish they would have rolled the dice A LOT more.

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