Sound — 8
The Ocean is something of a controversial band in the post- and progressive metal. Never fitting entirely comfortably in either genre but instead forging a sound somewhere between, The Ocean have made a name for themselves as forward-thinking musicians with a flair for the (melo?)dramatic. "Pelagial" opens with familiar elements - a soft piano melody, orchestral strings, and clean guitars leading the ear into the first infant phrases of the record. Though, this might be the best opening passage The Ocean has put to tape in their career and a not-so-subtle reminder to the listener that he is fit to descend into the depths of the ocean beneath, this is nothing out of the normal for The Ocean. Indeed, "nothing unusual" seems to be the theme of this record. While The Ocean do indeed have progressive leanings, they are not re-inventing the wheel on "Pelagial." Almost everything they do musically has been done before, but that isn't to say that is doesn't work here. In fact, the only really new element is the dancing lead guitar that appears sporadically throughout the record. As a whole, this record is the logical next step from "Heliocentric" and "Anthropocentric."
Lyrics — 7
Although every mention of this album has made sure to remind me that this was originally written as an instrumental record, I cannot help but think that such a release would have been a tremendous mistake. As of "Pelagial," Loic Rossetti has truly come into his own as a vocalist and to hear the instrumental version of this record (found on Disc 2) is to hear a record incomplete. The lyrics take influence from Andrei Tarkovsky's "Stalker," which emphasizes themes of personal exploration and isolation, which are presented with no shortage on "Pelagial." I have always felt that The Ocean's weakest point was their lyrics, though, and this record is no different. Although Rossetti's singing and screaming are as powerful as ever, the effect is dampened by the occasional poor turn of phrase.
Overall Impression — 8
Compared to earlier albums, it is hard to say how exactly "Pelagial" compares. It is clearly leaps and bounds ahead of Heliocentric, the album with which it shares the most similarities, but it is so different from their earlier material that comparison becomes less viable. There is no doubt the "Pelagial" is a strong record, however, certainly the since "Precambrian." The thing with "Pelagial" is that it must be heard in its entirety. There is no one track that stands out as a centerpiece like "Origin Of Species"/"Origin Of God" did on <"b>Heliocentric." Instead, this is a record whose strength lies in its consistency and continuity. There are indeed sections that stick out (the ending of "Mesopelagic," the introduction of "Bathypelagic II," and the introduction of "Demersal" come to mind), no one song is so strong that the record is lopsided for its inclusion. This record is not for fans of The Ocean Collective. It has neither the Metallica edge of "Aeolian" nor the sweeping orchestrations of "Fluxeon" or "Precambrian." This is an album for fans of Between The Buried And Me moonlighting as post-metal fans. This album stands out as the band's strongest effort in more than half a decade, but it is not a return to "Precambrian"'s sound. Taken on its own merit, however, it is a powerful and well-structured record. Album of the Year? It is far to soon to make that call so soon after its release, but "Pelagial" could well be a strong contender.