Pelagial review by The Ocean

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  • Released: Apr 26, 2013
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 6
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 6.7 Neat
  • Users' score: 9 (100 votes)
The Ocean: Pelagial
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Sound — 7
Often hailed as leaders in "post-metal", that most poorly defined and frequently discussed of styles, arty Germans The Ocean are quite keen on big projects and ambitious concept albums. "Pelagial" joins the ranks as a journey through the layers of the ocean the music getting darker and murkier as we adventure down to the bottom. Cool, huh? They have a track record of forging interesting ideas out of really boring premises - see previous releases "Anthropocentric" (the movement of the planets) and "Precambrian" (rocks) and this is arguably the most fully realised concept yet. In this case the "light" means noodling, drum fills and schizophrenic structuring in the style of tourmates Between The Buried And Me, chopping and changing almost at random and commanding a great deal of attention in the process. It seems silly to call something so manic, aggressive and technically demanding as "light" but tightly wound as these sections are they seem a little thin on meaningful content. It's only as we get deeper that this album starts to show its better self. "Abyssopelagic" widens the scope considerably with the first half's boldly melodic lead guitar and the second's delicate stretching of a theme and after that we get to what The Ocean do best: thick, bassy riffing with more gusto than BTBAM and less pretence than Isis or their other supposed contemporaries. Some of the closing moments of "Benthic: The Origin Of Our Wishes", where the drop-tuned thunder is compounded by the lead work from earlier, are absolutely divine.

Lyrics — 6
The album was originally intended to be instrumental. Vocalist Loc Rossetti was battling health problems during production and the band originally saw the concept as one that ought to be wordless - they didn't want to "sing about battles between sperm whales and giant squids", as guitarist Robin Stap eloquently put it. But they found a way to make it work, and Rossetti contributes his fair share across the album. His melodic wail is perhaps not so cerebral as everything else that's going on but that aids accessibility and without his contribution some of the drama would be lost in translation see "Bathyalpelagic II: The Wish In Dreams". The lyrics themselves are stuffy as ever and it would take either a science PhD or a helpfully-worded press release to decipher them. Unfortunately neither will be readily available to the majority of listeners. The instrumental disc is being released alongside the final version, and allows passionate fans to hear in more detail some of the performance and production tricks that kept the wheels turning. It is, however, rather boring if you're not interested in the technical aspects.

Overall Impression — 7
The downward movement, from fresh and airy to tough and uncompromising, is intriguing to track but with the strongest material almost entirely saved for the end, it is curious that The Ocean chose to go from top to bottom here, rather than starting in darkness and eventually bursting forth into fresh air. That could have helped "Pelagial" hit the next level and move well beyond any of their previous material, but as is, it sits comfortably alongside the other releases of a half-decent, above average band who haven't quite met their ambitions. Not yet.

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76 comments sorted by best / new / date

    JSmith38
    This album is great and by far my favorite of 2013 so far (followed very closely by Soilwork's The Living Infinite). The review doesn't do it justice.
    malahk
    "They have a track record of forging interesting ideas out of really boring premises - see previous releases "Anthropocentric" (the movement of the planets)" wow ug, you really went full retard on this... the album is a critique on the notion that we are the center of the universe... from wikipedia: "Like its companion Heliocentric, Anthropocentric focuses on critique of Fundamentalist Christianity and Creationism. It "challenges the views of creationists and other modern fundamentalists who still believe that the earth is at the center of the universe and no more than 5,000 years old."[2] The band comments on the theme of the album: "As far as the concepts behind Anthropocentric are concerned, the focus is on man and his place in the universe: at the center, as many fundamental Christians still claim today, or more likely a dust particle in its periphery. All lyrics are circling around this question. Anthropocentric will continue the critique of christianity, inspired by the questions that Dostoyevsky asked and some of the answers that Friedrich Nietzsche and Richard Dawkins gave."" i wonder if you have even listened to any of their music
    crazysam23_Atax
    So, you expect the reviewer to define the entirety of the concept of "Anthropocentric" in a review about another album? And you're saying UG went full retard? For the record, btw, I know who the reviewer is, and you're a moron if you think he went full retard on this. He was actually generous on this album, imho.
    beneharris
    I +1'd you but I meant not to. He was saying they went full retard because they couldn't get the right definition of "Anthropocentric." It was pretty stupid. A quick look at the word would tell you it doesn't mean movement of the planets.
    crazysam23_Atax
    And it doesn't matter really. If that's the only sticking point you find to the whole review (and use that as the sole reason you hated it), then why even bother?...
    ruker
    You agree that Anthropocentric is about "the movement of planets", or at least that it is a decent summery of the concept?
    crazysam23_Atax
    I'm saying it doesn't matter. The rest of the review was spot on.
    ruker
    "2 of 19 people found this review helpful" Doesn't sound too spot on to me. But, you're entitled to your opinion.
    Gerard Way Jr
    Eeeh, it could just mean people didn't agree, not that it was a bad review. Believe me when I say users will vote first based on whether or not they agree, then whether or not they like the person, then whether or not it's well written. I personally don't think the review is accurate or particularly thorough, but I refrained from voting either way. Looked like there was enough going on as it was.
    HardRock369
    Because you're an authority on reviews, being an amateur reviewer yourself. Oh, sorry, I forgot you seem to think you're an accredited reviewer for ****ing Rolling Stone magazine. You post all over most of the reviews on this site, and your picture coupled with the arrogance in your posts just always angers me
    Gerard Way Jr
    ...my picture? LOOL You're kidding, right? And yeah, that IS what people vote for. I see it all the time, and not just with my reviews. Not to mention that there is CLEARLY a reader bias - look at all the comments here saying the review isn't a fair representation of the album. I don't have to be an "authority" because I can observe and make conclusions. Durr. "Your picture coupled with arrogance" Give me a break. Is this your first day on the internet? If you're that angered by someone posting on user reviews on the internet (just think about how retarded that sounds for a second), I recommend you take up smoking.
    HardRock369
    Since we're dealing with someone who quite obviously has poor reading comprehension skills, let me spell this out for you. A) It was sarcasm. I don't care if you write reviews, I don't care if you post videos online of you shaving your bush. I'm not 'angry' for you posting reviews, I'm not even angry at all actually. B) The way you worded that comes off so douchey I imagine you sitting at your computer chair with a fedora on. You tried to come off like you had all this wealth of knowledge from your reviews, and then critiqued the way this one was written. Who's the paid reviewer here, them? Or you? C) Yes, your picture. Look at that face, only someone who thinks they're really hot shit would pick that as their picture
    Gerard Way Jr
    It was also petty of you to go back and thumbs-down half of my reviews, proving my point that people DO vote based on whether or not they like the person, which you originally disputed. Seriously, how old are you?
    HardRock369
    Like I said, reading comprehension is not your strong point, which isn't good for someone who reviews lyrics of songs. I didn't dispute anything you said, I simply made a sarcastic comment about you being an authority on reviewing. You're constantly commenting on reviews on this site with a holier-than-thou attitude because you're some dude up in his room in his mom's house reviewing bad emo albums. FFS, you even took the time to take a swipe at Bon Jovi on a Deep Purple album review. It's really quite annoying to have to see your name in the comments section pretending you're the pinnacle of reviewers thinking your insight on albums is flawless and not up for debate
    Gerard Way Jr
    But you didn't debate my insight on albums; you attacked me as a person and my picture, of all things. This is neither the time nor place to have a debate about your opinion of me.
    Gerard Way Jr
    These are all really petty things to comment about on a review. Yeah, I must think I'm hot shit for using a picture of myself S:
    sonicx2218
    Disagree almost 100% with the review. I found this to be an incredibly satisfying release; def a contender for my album of the year. The dynamics and use of repetition is just the best.
    Mahoru
    The review couldn't be more off. Their best work to date, without a doubt. Along with Steven Wilson's album, the best I've heard this year so far, nothing short of amazing.
    ruker
    Favorite album of 2013 so far. And releasing of the instrumentals again is sick. Anthro, Helio, and now Pelagial... sweeeeet!
    JSmith38
    makes sense to release the instrumental with this one seeing as how it was originally going to be 100% instrumental with no vocals.
    Darth Bastard
    There's a reason why I never take value in the reviews here, thumbs down to this review, thought it was the best release so far this year. Obviously it's all opinions but **** it Z.
    Darth Bastard
    To expand on what I said earlier, your negatives weren't even negatives. Who cares if the lyrics are big words, does that scare you? And the instrumental cd is absolutely not boring, and I bet many will love to look at the album in a different light, and who knows, maybe somebody will use it to practice their vocals, just because you personally have no need for it doesn't make it something useless. Furthermore, this band is anything but average, their work is much more passionate and emotionally gripping than many other bands out there today. It just doesn't really seem like a review. Also if the order would have been reversed, the lyrics would have made no sense and the flow would have been ruined. The beginning songs while lighter emotionally and heaviness-wise still have some dark lyrics that actually pertains to a story being told, it's not like they're fun and care free, your suggestion that they flip simply makes no sense.
    ChemicalFire
    Are you basing this Bitch Fit on an actual critical breakdown on the album or just being whiny because you like the album and they don't? I feel like it's the latter. So tired of ignorant children (or at least adults that act like children) not understanding that a review is a thoughtful breakdown of a reviewers opinions mixed with a healthy dose of objectivity. If you don't agree with a review... that's fine... but that doesn't make the review wrong or badly written. It just means that you and the reviewer see eye to eye... which is fine. You do nothing but discredit yourself by being such a whiny bitch.
    huevos
    Expect that the reviewer got the facts wrong on multiple occasions. -Anthropocentric does not mean "the movement of the planets" in terms of the album content or the definition of the word itself. -Precambrian is not just "rocks". -Lyrical elements are quite straight forward; you shouldn't need a PhD to understand the content. Structurally and comparitively: -The structure of how the info is presented is sloppy at best. -Comparisons to BTBAM are quite far off; ISIS and Tool would be much closer stylistically. Objectivity and a properly researched review from UG? You must be blissfully ignorant and hopelessly optimistic if that's what you expect from this site.
    duncang
    Here, in more detail, are some of the moments I would highlight to substantiate my comparisons with Between the Buried and Me: 4:50 of Mesopelagic - big, obvious, thudding dissonance on guitar, synchronised with snare. Tool don't do tritones and neither do Isis; BTBAM do, and they do it in this same way with all the instruments smacking out a rhythm. See the song 'White Walls' for a few examples. 2:35 of Impasses - I pick out this riff because it does have echoes of Tool, and quite strong ones. Both bands move through time signatures, often unconventional ones. What this song does though is chops beats from the bar for a jarring effect. You can hear, can you not, a very strong 4/4 pulse? That's something Tool very rarely do and BTBAM do regularly. Tool tend to write organically and tailor their grooves to the count whereas BTBAM (and in this case The Ocean) will play conventional 4/4, 3/4 grooves (etc) and chop a beat off them. 0:42 and repeated in The Wish in Dreams - relatively rapid lead guitar. Isis and Tool do not have this. Ever. Between The Buried and Me most certainly do. 0:53 of Disequillibrated - there's a mid-paced groove interspersed with blastbeats. When have you ever heard Tool or Isis play a blastbeat? BTBAM do it all the time. There are also more of those added beats here (5/4 then the same riff with an extra crotchet tacked on to make 6/4) Boundless Vasts, right from the beginning - more melodic guitar leads! Note at 0:38 the lead guitar run synchronised with an extended drum fill. Listen to any BTBAM record from Colors onwards to hear that in more or less every song - usually several times if it's a long/'heavy' one. Tool have long drum fills but they don't do 'guitar runs' - Isis don't really have either as far as I'm aware, though I can't say I know their entire catalogue off by heart. Tool only have one guitar player and he primarily plays rhythm. Any lead stuff or soloing tends to rely on effects and production rather than melody. As I alluded to in my review, Abyssopelagic is where you start to see quite a few changes and Signals of Anxiety is more of an Isis-style track. What I mean by 'delicate stretching of a theme' is the guitar melody at 1:10, which is kind of put through the mixer as all the other elements change. I say delicate because, while the track goes from loud to quiet and back again a couple of times, with loads of instruments coming in, that one melody does remain there in some form. No notable BTBAM influence here and - as I said in my review - that influence does fade in the second half as we go into the deeper riffing. Nonetheless, Omen of the Deep. Just an intro track but it's got an organ on it! Isis *may* have had that (I'm not sure) but Tool certainly haven't, while Tommy's used it as one of his go-to sounds on the last 3 BTBAM albums. After that there are bits and pieces of the sound from the first half but you're right that it doesn't bear much similarity to BTBAM. So there you go, there's something from every single one of the songs I was referring to besides the intro, which I'll have to concede does not sound like Between the Buried and Me. Now I'm not saying that the album is identical to one that they might write, that would be silly. My point, as I wrote in the review and have tried to explain in other comments, is that The Ocean are not really the pure-blooded, post-metal, Isis/Cult of Luna clone people tend to treat them as. They have other, very different influences, and I chose that one. Hope that all makes sense. Onto your other points: the concept part (planets, rocks etc) was a generalisation for comic effect. I thought that would be clear, but it seems it wasn't so apologies. I took some artistic licence on the theme of Anthropocentric because I thought I'd get yelled at more for calling the real theme boring. Evidently that was the wrong call! So yeah, it wasn't bang-on but it was done to highlight how much potential there was in Pelagial's concept. I'm sorry if you think my writing is sloppy. I hope, at least, that this post is clearer! The part about needing PhD was a blatant joke and exaggeration. The fact I even need to point that out worries me. But the point about them being rather wordy is founded in evidence, I think. I don't have the booklet to hand but song titles like 'Bathyalpelagic III: Disequillibrated' don't smack of a band aiming for clarity. You may disagree with my ratings (everyone does when I give an album less than 8/10) but don't patronise me.
    severed-metal
    Wow, thanks for your expert opinions on how to be a total moron. I'll be waiting to hear your next review on "Band I like" with their new album titled "We aren't good at creating concepts and our biggest fan is an idiot." Should I give you my e-mail address so you can berate me with non-facts and poorly justified opinions? So what about that "negatives weren't even negatives" idiocy? Do you know how redundant you sound? You're attacking his positives that sounded like negatives when you didn't agree with the negatives he was saying. Stupidity. What about the big words? I don't recall the reviewer saying anything about big words, just that the big words they were using aren't accessible to fans like you, who like to think they're smart for buying into this pseudo-intellectual album. Trust me, it should be you that's complaining about the lyrics considering your frequent retardation when it comes to explanation through words. I bet those people who want to improve those vocals also sing the shower. If you're wondering what that means, refer to this: Nothing. Thanks for yet another brainless non-point that just goes to show how useless the instrumental album really is. I'm fine with you saying the album is emotionally gripping and passionate, but you had to say that other people can't say they aren't. Thanks again. The rest of your statement is so intellectually void that I don't see a reason to address it. You know why it doesn't seem a like a review to you? Because reviewers like Duncan are forced to censor their thoughts by people like you who want to make sure your bland and uninteresting viewpoints aren't shattered before your very eyes, thus causing you to get mad and to write an angry letter. Your opinion doesn't matter, and I hope you get hit by a bus. Zip it up, and zip it out.
    bassthunder
    Way to completely misinterpret everything he said, genius.
    severed-metal
    I appreciate your concern, bassthunder. I don't think you fully realize the amount of people getting upset that their favourite band's albums aren't being given straight tens, of course with darth bastard being the noticeable of the bunch, I responded with little force. When an honest review is given, the reviewer receives the flak that should instead be given to the band. After all, if this is the best album of the year, shouldn't this be lauded over by mainstream media or post-metal fans in general? Shouldn't this be on the front page of TIME for being the greatest album to ever appear on the Earth? But that's ridiculous, because it isn't the best album of the year. It's exactly what the reviewer said it was. "Why is that?", you might ask. Because he didn't say "It's my favourite band, I'm going to give them a good review." He reviewed it honestly. This particular review was undermined by the numerical value given, and then people wasted their opinions telling him how unfair this review is. With the exceptional of a few rationally minded human beings, you not being one of them, sorry bassthunder.
    pinguinpanic
    Sorry to burst your bubble but it has been crowned album of the month already at a lot of places. Aardschok magazine, Zillo Magazine, AngryMetalGuy, HeavyMetal etc. And the month of April also had the release of Ghost's Infestissumam which is also a very fantastic record. Having a large (Dutch) magazine like Aardschok placing Pelagial above the masterpiece that is Infestissumam definitely makes this Album of the Year material. But then again the year is still long.
    crazysam23_Atax
    @pinguinpanic: All of that is meaningless. Any accolades albums receive tend to be based upon popularity and general public opinion rather than the quality of the music as a whole. Also, Infestissumam is terrible.
    huevos
    I'll go ahead and assume that what Darth Bastard meant was that the allegedly negative points (and the review in general) hardly provided any useful criticism or a coherent message, much like your post, severed. You really should work towards proper discourse, instead of relying on ad hominem attacks, circular logic, and all around nonsense. But, whatevs. I do realize this advice will fall on deaf ears and nothing of value will be gained.
    severed-metal
    Nothing of value would be gained, because nothing of value was offered. I do not think you should think of yourself as highly as you do, since you use words like "whatevs" and descend into being passive aggressive. I never claimed my first point to be a reason of debate, perhaps that is where the confusion is. I gave reasoning behind my intents in my second post, which was ignored or condemned by The Ocean fans. I didn't feel a need to explain my intents further, considering you are apart of The Ocean fans, you should already know this because of your heightened intelligence and expertise at debating. but whatevs, I do realize how pretentious I am, but my advice will fall on deaf ears. After all, only deaf ears can enjoy The Ocean.
    frax21
    Honestly I heard all of their releases and this is absolutely the best one, plus I saw them live last week and it was mind blowing. This music is not boring at all, I could jam to it all day.
    KerNeL_KLuTcH
    post-metal is just sludge/doom/stoner metal with atmospheric elements and ethereal qualities, and a progressive sound not that hard to explain really.
    robertito696
    A bit pretentious and overly-intellectual, but I expected nothing less from them, pretty good from the little I've heard. Some tasty riffs in there.
    Skyvalve2012
    I need to buy this. After reading Epi's review on one of their previous releases, I got intrigued. So i might get this for my birthday. By the way: a album about the ocean? YES!!!! NATURE THANKs YOU!!!
    AdriAn934
    "it sits comfortably alongside the other releases of a half-decent, above average band who haven't quite met their ambitions. Not yet." Very well put. My favorite attempt would have to be Precambrian
    EpiExplorer
    Haven't picked it up yet, but I liked their teasers, and the concept is more than intruging.
    Skyvalve2012
    I read your review of one of their earlier releases. I'm blaming you for getting me into the Ocean. So thanks By the way, the concept seems like you could listen to it while reading 20,000 leagues under the sea.
    Fwenx
    Actually a friend of mine recommended listening to it while watching Oceans from Planet Earth on mute
    crazysam23_Atax
    "Often hailed as leaders in "post-metal"" I've never heard anyone (outside of their fanboys) refer to this band as leaders in anything. This band is another boring band that tries to do Post-Metal well and comes off as average. Btw, this album sounds like a ripoff of Isis' Panopticon, idea-wise. And while the Post-Metal moments do exist, this band really doesn't have much of the Post-Metal aesthetic to them. @sonicx2218: Listen to Cult of Luna's "Vertikal". It blows this out of the water.
    duncang
    Well, they've got plenty of fans as you can see here!
    crazysam23_Atax
    I see that, but I think they don't do Post-Metal as well as they could. They present a decent album, but it's not solidly great Post-Metal (contrary to what a lot of their fans think).
    EpiExplorer
    You know, there's a reason you have a photoshop thread just for you, and its not because we think you have good opinions.
    crazysam23_Atax
    @Epi: If you say so...whatever any of that means.
    thejohnoparty
    I see you're still a gigantic joke. It's boneheaded, socially inept nerds, like yourself, that make people hate any fans of metal.
    crazysam23_Atax
    @thejohnoparty: I still don't get why people take the time to post things like this...
    thejohnoparty
    The same reason YOU take the time to post pretentious garbage 10 different times in every review of an album or artist that you don't like for stupid reasons.. To get a point across whether or not the majority of people are going to like it. If not done already, add 'hypocrisy' to the list of reasons you should probably keep your ignorant opinions to yourself.
    crazysam23_Atax
    I repeat my previous statement... Edit: Also, you may want to look up the definition of "hypocrisy" again. /shrug
    thejohnoparty
    You're criticizing me for taking the time to "post things like this", while you post similar trash constantly. That's hypocritical, champ.
    crazysam23_Atax
    I post my opinions on albums consistently. I rarely directly insult other posters. If I was constantly bashing people in reviews like you're bashing me now, then it would be hypocrisy. You're just trying to find a way to discredit me, because you disagree with my points. /shrug
    thejohnoparty
    @crazysam- It's not your opinions, or what you have to say. It's HOW you present it, that's a problem. You act as if your opinion is fact and everyone should just bow at your omniscient metalhead elitist feet. You're a fool. Get over yourself.
    ruker
    Seriously, how hypocritical. Crazysam has posted more garbage in here not pertaining to this review or even album/band. Yet he's the first one to tell other people "It's not worth it, man. Stop it." A gigantic joke sounds to be a bit of an understatement judging by everyone's interactions with this guy.
    thejohnoparty
    @ruker- Judging by the votes on all his comments, we're not alone in these thoughts. I just don't have a problem with voicing it. Someone needs to take the guy down a peg. Nothing worse than a pompous fool, spewing blatantly biased ignorance.
    phili666
    Vertikal could have the same criticisms as this record though. this is just UG not being a fan of anything progressive or artistic, it's not 80's styled rock or metal and it's not metalcore so they don't rate it highly
    crazysam23_Atax
    @Phili666: ...What? You really should listen to Vertikal again. Stylistically, they're completely different. You don't hear BTBAM style lead in Vertikal. You hear nothing BUT Post-Metal , as opposed to Metal with Post- influences . It's a fine distinction but an important one. Edit: And while you're at it, read the Vertikal review. It was well-rated by the UG Team, as it should have been.