By Matt Lewis
Anthropocentric – Regarding the human being as the central fact of the Universe
This is the second album to be released from the prog sci metallers The Ocean this year. Yes, I think I just invented a new genre in prog sci metal. Anthropocentric is the heavier album from Robin and The Ocean Collective that was promised this year and it is definitely heavy and based on a different concept. Heliocentric, the previous album was based on the idea of science through the ages and how Christianity affected its development or lack thereof. Anthropocentric is another concept album, this time dealing more with the idea of religion and god as an entity and builder as opposed to Anthropocentrism. See definition above. This is also the first album that Robin Stapps has allowed fellow band members to contribute to the songwriting process although I am not sure it really shows. This is clearly an Ocean Collective record and there aren’t really places where you could say that sounds like someone else’s idea.
Regardless, the album opens with the title track and the riff is huge right out of the gate. It is a nine minute track of heavy riffing with a few breaks of melody and vocal harmonizing. If you’re a fan of The Ocean already I would say a lot of this disc reminds me of the second disc of Precambrian but different. A lot of heavy riffing with harsh vocals and now with the versatility of the new vocalist Loic there are some great moments of clean singing and melody. I will say that while past albums from The Ocean excluding Heliocentric have had a lot of groove heavy riffs this album doesn’t really lock in a riff for too long. It is quite varied and I think that’s why it threw me at first. I was expecting the same type of formula as previous efforts but Anthropocentric has really stepped it up a notch in terms of an evolved sound.
Going from track to track, this is clearly a progressive man’s album. It flows from headbanging, wall smashing, guitar slinging rock to the lighter more introspective melodies that The Ocean has displayed from the beginning. I really think with the addition of new vocalist Loic that this is what we can expect from The Ocean in the years to come. Robin can write the songs he has always wanted too without restriction of song structure, melody and harmony. He has all the tools available to do what he wants now and it shows. Standout tracks are the title track, “She Was The Universe,” “Sewers of the Soul” and “Heaven TV” which opens with a blistering almost thrashy riff. A special mention goes to the The Grand Inquisitor Trilogy on here, interspersed throughout the album; it is composed of 3 parts, lyrically based on the Dostoyevsky’s novel “The Brothers Karamsov”. There are four tracks to this but the final track is only available on the special edition. The third song in the Trilogy called “A tiny grain of faith” is quite a surprise, it opens with some electronics and what I think could possibly be some sort of xylophone. It is filled with creepy and off key stringed instruments and a beautiful voice singing about the devil. It is truly a bone chilling track.
If you didn’t think Heliocentric was heavy enough then this would be the album for you and if you still think it is still not heavy enough then you just might be from the Cenozoic Era. No intelligent life anywhere.