The Ocean – Phanerozoic Live: Album Review

The Ocean take their ambitious work into the live arena.

the ocean

Release Date: 12th November 2021

Label: Pelagic Records

Format: 3LP / 2CD / DVD

We reviewed the mighty shape-shifted expanse of Phanerozoic II, Mesozoic / Cenozoic just over a year ago. Progressive and perverse, The Ocean (“professional escape artists from a modern world“) deliver on a recording that covers both Phanerozoic I & II with performances taken from their highly acclaimed lockdown livestreams – Live in Breman and Roadburn Redux.

It’s a document of the times and a fully immersive experience that covers the cerebral, the primal and the inexplicable in equal measures. The opening fury of Cambrian II and Ordivicium from the Bremen show establish that these live outings are going to explode in an outpouring of passion and fervour. Capturing the full essence of a live show on a big stage in front of an invisible audience, the band literally go for it like it’s their last show. Intense with barely any let-up or pause for breath. A couple of the extended pieces – Devonian and Silurian – offer the chance to take a breath in some more restrained passages although we’re never too far from a throat-ripping vocal line.

This is the sound of letting go; the sound of a band in full flight and at full capacity. Cross off the ‘Post’ of their Post Rock/Metal tag – this is a complete adrenaline rush, given the status of the full, in concert treatment. Widescreen, heavy music.

The Roadburn Redux show offers/offered something different. It’s the obvious contrast to Bremen with a stripped-down setup that’s more about musicianship and atmosphere. Intimate, confined, no audience and the band vibing off each other. Having said that, halfway through Triassic, the mood takes a hit with the chanted vocal being hijacked by that massive growl. The might of Jurassic similarly bangs and bounds and suddenly, the contrast in the settings doesn’t seem quite such a wide gap. In fact, the intensity appears much more heightened – might be the cold driving the band to greater heights and raising the temperature…

As the music unfolds in bite-sized chunks, Oligocene offers up a moody and gentle alternative to the explosions of energy. And although it comes right at the every end, it’s worth the wait for Holocene that strikes up a low key, but no less intense groove. For once, remaining comfortably within the sonic boundaries to wind up the album. A sign that the thunder has passed and the calm following the storm of a bombastic live experience.

Here’s Devonian: Nascent from the album/stream:

The Ocean online: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Bandcamp

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