Sound: Ever considered the timeline that has brought us to today's religious world? As is this timeline a natural progression from one theory to the next, The Ocean Collective have advanced and matured their music with each release. Precambrian (Hadean/Archaean and Proterozoic) began with journey of the earth's formation and development and now we've been given Heliocentric, apparently a critique of Christianity and early religions that came with it. To exemplify the grand scale of the stories that come with the music, The Ocean produces their sound to be as massive as possible.
Continuing with the heavy post/sludge metal of their previous efforts (and adding a new vocalist), The Ocean have diversified their sound from Precambrian and made it more melodic, more structured and altogether that bit more accessible. The big presence of progressive rock is present all over the album too as seen in the riffs and drumming style. There is also a degree of well-executed ambient atmosphere going on which is mainly provided by guitar and the orchestral instruments. Although the main instruments of guitar/bass/drums aren't really 'explored' in the sense of technicality, they provide the atmospheric base that is needed for story-telling type music and it works brilliantly. // 8
Lyrics: The theme of the album is well-presented within the songs and the lyrics have been well melded with the vocals: Nothing sounds out of place and the balance between clean and dirty vocals and where they are placed is dead on. The song 'Firmament' is a good example and it contains lyrics stemming only from the book of Genesis in the bible:
And God Said, Let There Be Light
In the Firmament of the heaven.
Let there be lights in heaven to divide the day from the night,
And let them be for signs, for seasons and for days (and years...),
And let there be for lights in the firmament,
To give light upon the earth.
Vocal-wise, it's a bit of a departure from Precambrian and more like their debut album Fluxion with the addition of a new vocalist. The new guy, Loic, has a relaxed sort of vocal style. He operates mostly in the mid-high tenor range and his voice is at times either a whisper or a strong soaring voice with a hint of James Hetfield about it. This is to offset (what could be the considered the biggest flaw of the album) the growling vocals which, and there's no other way to really get around it, sound like Matt Heafy (with much more coherency). While not necessarily bad, it's just that... He sounds like Matt Heafy. That said however, his growl is used in moderation and at the right dramatic moments and isn't in any way as annoying as... Matt Heafy. In fact, I couldn't really imagine listening to the album without them. // 8
Overall Impression: Sludge/Post/doom metal in general is always in a state of flux, so to speak. There are many bands that diversify their sound with many elements, like Mastodon, Isis and Sunn 0))) and some that stick with formula and keep it like that (in the traditional punk manner) such as Eyehategod and Crowbar. Heliocentric meets in the middle: Their sound is always changing from minor or major new additions to their instrumentation but in essence, the general sound isn't too different from previous releases like the aforementioned Fluxion (the re-mastered version in particular).
Heliocentric has quite a few shining songs: 'Firmament' 'Swallowed by the Earth' 'Metaphysics of the hangman' and 'The Origin of God'. The album itself is more like an over-the-top audio book that really needs to be listened to fully for maximum impact.
Heliocentric is by far the most refined album they've made and Anthropocentric, which is soon to be released and will be part of the double-album release which The Ocean have done before, will be the more heavier and more metal album which will continue their evolution. // 8