For the longest time, The Ocean existed in a bit of a blind spot of mine. I’d heard of them, but somehow never actually heard them. Until one fateful day I saw that they were coming to my city – in only a couple of weeks, in fact. At the time, I’d made myself a New Years resolution to go to more gigs (remember those? 🦠), and being mid-January I was excited to make good on this plan. I put on their latest album to see if this was a band I’d enjoy seeing live. I’d bought the ticket before the first track was done. I was late to it, but I’d just been let in on an important piece of information:
The Ocean are a very special band.
Genre-wise, The Ocean are a difficult to label band. They’re kind of prog, very sludgy, with a decent helping of post metal. The result is an expansive and intimidating sound, equal parts heavy and beautiful.
On their 2013 release, ‘Pelagial’, the band explores the concept of a journey to the depths of the ocean. Not only is this reflected in the song titles, but sonically as well – as the album progresses the music becomes darker and more claustrophobic in atmosphere. Unique and fascinating concepts like this are what I have come to associate with The Ocean.
Their 2007 album, ‘Precambrian’, is based around the Precambrian period of Earth, with the two discs (‘Hadean/Archaean’ and ‘Proterozoic’) named after separate eons within the period. The two discs have markedly different sounds, with the latter being a more progressive, post metal influenced sound than the heavier sound found on the former.
The band returned to these ancient geological concepts in 2018 and 2020 with their two-part ‘Phanerozoic’ concept, with part one exploring the Palaeozoic eta, and part two the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras.
Phanerozoic I and II are absolute masterpieces. Complex in themes and composition, conceptually unique and elaborate, and stunningly beautiful. The musical themes presented through this 2-part piece are masterfully composed and performed.
So yeah, I went and saw The Ocean play my city as a brand new fan. I had become a fan in the previous week, endlessly listening to their music in anticipation of that night, but I left completely in love with the band. The performance was breathtaking. And all this started because a band is never heard was coming to town and I thought “Why the fuck not?“.