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Oceano’s Ascendants: Like An Everflowing Deuce

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On the surface, Chicago’s Oceano aren’t doing anything worse than any other death metal band. Sure, they released a 2008 photoshoot where they posed like they butchering a woman; who doesn’t love Cannibal Corpse? And hey, maybe they prefer baggy hip hop-reminiscent clothes to leather and spikes—it’s 2015, get over it. It is always the music that must be judged, first and foremost. And on Ascendants, Oceano suck out loud. It’s not about genre tags or being true, it’s about nine boring, repetitive, unnecessary tracks in a row.

The sons on Ascendants all have the same sound, the same rhythm, the same everything. The guitars sound like two washboards being rubbed together, the percussion is tinny and never takes on any interesting changes in tempo, and the vocals just…don’t…stop. Every second of this album features the same guttural barking in the same basic pattern over and over again. The occasional moments of foreboding keyboards over this mess aren’t even that foreboding, they just sound like someone leaning on a series of cords, and the rest of the music is so repetitive that they don’t seem to change anything about the atmosphere of the songs. And because of all of this, the listener never learns or feels anything. Without the song titles in front of them, they would not be able to tell what any song is about, whether its message is uplifting or downtrodding, what the overall message is that Oceano want them to know. The only discernible phrase on the whole album is, “DEATH IS NOT THE END!” at the close of the last song, does inspire fear, because it implies that Oceano’s music might exist even after you kill it.

One can no longer simply blow off deathcore as a genre anymore. It has proven its stamina enough to become part of metal as a whole, and people who are overly vocal in their hatred of it usually just come across as jaded codgers. It’s all about the music. But if one wants to make waves as a part of metal’s most hated niche, one has to do something interesting. Ascendants is not interesting. Ascendants sounds like someone carrying a box of breakdowns who fell down a flight of stairs. Do not buy this album.

Oceano’s Ascendants comes out March 24 on Earache. You can stream the song “Transient Gateways” here and ignore Emperor Rhomus’ advice here.

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