The Ocean - Precambrian: Hadean/Archaean Review
by Mark Hensch
Every band has their B-sides and German experimentalists The Ocean are no exception. Released in late 2007, the band's sprawling epic of geological change in Precambrian was a daring listen. Fusing together elements of technical groove, furious hardcore, crushing doom, and symphonic grandeur, Precambrian was a riveting descent into madness. With this in mind, how would a mini-album---Hadean/Archaean---preceding it stack up?
The answer is thus---if the main portion of Precambrian is a colossal tower, than this tiny teaser is nothing but a miniscule stack of pebbles. Hadean largely lacks the fluid experimentation of Precambrian proper, opting instead for an approach which strips the Ocean of their more unique elements and renders them just another band. For anyone having heard this strange "collective," the Ocean is anything but that. Here, though, things sound trite and bland.
Title track "Hadean," for example, sounds like a by-the-numbers mash-up of Throwdown and Meshuggah. It grooves with immensity, but other than that, the song is lacking in variety save for a brief flurry of frantic melodies at the end.
"Eoarchaean," meanwhile, follows much the same pattern. Sure, it hits like a ton of bricks, but a truckload of bands do that. So what? Slow motion chugging with a hint of melody is not a reinvention of the wheel, not even here. I guess if a band imitating Mastodon imitating Neurosis floats your boat, this might be for you. Key word there is might.
"Palaeoarchaean" blisters with what is finally some real energy, flying past with an oldschool Cro-Mags intensity. Some unusually catchy choruses add further points, while the song's rollicking melody freakout recalls Cave In during their heyday. Fierce and poignant, it is one of the only heartfelt moments on this disc, a rare transfer of emotion from the main album.
"Mesoarchaean" swings with biting groove before blowing its stack with some straightforward confrontational sludge. Mixing confident beatdowns with flurries of technical ecstasy, this is decent but nothing truly fresh.
The same can also be said for moderately entertaining finish "Neoarachaean." Things start promising with a rippling arena rock shimmy, but largely peter out with a tiring assault of complex ferocity. It is alright, but so are a lot of other songs.
With all this in mind, one could conclude Hadean is a fun album but in reality it is lacking. Paired with a real opus in the central Precambrian album, even the best cuts on offer here simply do not measure up. At twenty two minutes, the good songs to time ratio is a little wanting as well. Simply put, the Ocean is a truly interesting band but a piece of work like Hadean/Archaean does not truly show it.
The Ocean's Hadean/Archaean
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