Oceans of Slumber – Aetherial (Self-Released)

Wednesday, 1st May 2013
Rating: 6.5/10

Sometimes, all a young band needs is a stopwatch. Sure, playing your multifaceted song with 30 parts, 10 time-changes, and multiple tempo shifts might be fun for you, but not for the listener. It’s why in the corporate and/or journalism world, “think about your audience” is a commonality. Clearly, it’s never been as such in metal and if it were, the metal public would quickly grow tired of getting what they want. But, meeting halfway in this battle pays dividends, something Houston’s Oceans of Slumber struggle to figure out on their Aetherial debut.

The progressive tag suits these guys all the way, as sweeping leads and complex arrangements are made the point of focus, especially on the instant “Coffins Like Kites.” There’s a distinct back-and-forth between Opeth’s more brutish moments, and the sky-high movements Between the Buried and Me are prone to releasing. Yet, the problem with Oceans of Slumber are their brand of more-is-more metal, is that you get too much. As in, there’s not a cut here under the five-minute mark, which wouldn’t be a problem if the cavalcade of ideas ended up reigning itself in. There’s no apparent idea filter with Oceans of Slumber; it’s a constant presentation of new riffs, arrangement alterations, and vocal manifestations.

With noted British producer Russ Russell at the helm, Aetherial sounds (and looks) professional, so it’s quite possible they could be shedding the unsigned tag in due time. Before they reach that point, though, it’s probably a prescient idea to take a step back, bring in some outside ears, and discover that the brain space of your audience is more finite than yours.

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