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Oceanwake : Sunless

Dense, integrating, sorrowful, beautiful, calm, and absolutely fearsome: Oceanwake's sophomore.

Dense, integrating, sorrowful, beautiful, calm, and absolutely fearsome; Oceanwake's 'Sunless' possesses all these qualities and more which blend into a great musical œuvre.

'Sunless' is perhaps best described as 'up-beat' Funeral Doom, with soft passages between and harsh and heavy vocal exhibition. The heavier melodies consist mainly of powerful drone notes with Sabbath-like trills and devastating riffs. These riffs tend to become melodic and complex throughout each piece and more intricate than their initial display. This is done by what looks to be the layering of different ostinatos but keeping with a main melody. The vocals accompany quite fittingly with a dark combination of high and low growls and the drums play in a solid and clear manner and emphasise the guitar and bass performance.

But it diverges from this motif and enters into clean guitar phrases, sometimes with soft effects, played as if it were a sound track for a reverie. Soft, clean vocals are administered behind this in a similar manner. This is really where the interesting part of the album comes. I am most often accustomed to clean guitars in Funeral Doom, and Doom Metal in general, as attempting to present a cold atmosphere, which would be expected and appropriate. But Oceanwake seem to give a warmer texture with this, though it appears to be a rather hopeless warmth, evoking a despondent mood. I find it difficult to describe accurately the sort of ambiance with this. I've heard it done by artists before, but not by many. I sometimes seek to compare it to Post-Rock bands like Mono, but Oceanwake certainly has a much darker and stronger tone.

These are all traits which I believe to be good and worthy of listening. Yet, I should note that the above traits appear to be a sort of formula for the record and this motif is repeated throughout with very little derivation. Consistency is a beneficial item for every album, and I shan't complain about it here, but I always enjoy it when a release takes a little bit of a divergence from its typical themes. I reckon that what I enjoy predominantly from this recording is the ability it has to make you sort of lost in it. It often utilises long instrumentals which have enough diversity in musical composition to keep one's attention, but also can have the listener conceivably relax their mind.

There is not really much in 'Sunless' which can defeat itself. It is produced well and the arrangement of the music is splendid, although maybe a bit formulated. I would certainly say it is a pleasant album, but I cannot help but feel that it is one that would be an acquired taste. At first listen, it is possibly not very interesting because of the typical Funeral Doom aspects in it. But after hearing it a few times and giving it attention, it gives much more to you.

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Reviewer's rating: 9/10


Tracklist :
1. The Lay of a Coming Storm
2. Parhelion
3. Avanturine
4. Ephemeral

Duration : Approx. 43 minutes

Visit the Oceanwake bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-12-13 by Dani Alisée
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