Oceans of Slumber – Winter

Oceans of Slumber Winter ghostcultmag

Oceans of Slumber’s new album Winter (Century Media) is sort of frustrating. Frustrating like “Wow I’m really enjoying this song” and then one of the novice inconsistencies comes in and I’m punching my fridge repeatedly.

Don’t let me get off on the wrong foot here as there is much talent to be extracted from this young Houston band. For starters they have a vocalist in Cammie Gilbert who can sing. And by sing I don’t mean the metalcore melodic chorus sandwiched between barking verses. Like she can actually fucking sing. Guitarists Anthony Contreras and Sean Gary cleverly find the link between Sabbath doom and Michael Amott shred. Seems like a no brainer, right? Possible album of the month?

Not quite yet. Winter’s title track its follow up ‘Devout’ (and ‘…This Road’) serve as the cover letter to this pretty good resume. They highlight Gilbert’s vocals and pull from various strains of extreme metal and form them into a cohesive and satisfying musical package. ‘Night in White Satin’ comes close to recreating this alchemy, but the repeated hook begins to feel like deadweight. And then what precedes that is my biggest issue with Winter. Interludes.

Never thought I’d ever bring up interludes as a point of contention in a review, but counting outro track ‘Grace,’ there are five of them on Winter. While interludes is a musical trend that many a modern band resorts to (looking at you Between the Buried and Me), by going to that well so often we lose about 10 minutes of quality time with Oceans of Slumber. That’s a shame considering that the band has such a great understanding of light and shade dynamics, so there really isn’t a need for interludes. Speaking of dynamics check out ‘Apologue,’ if you to see what Oceans of Slumber sound like when they leave the melody at home. It’s shockingly heavy.

So not quite album of the month, but they’ve got the tools and with a little roadwork, Oceans of Slumber’s next could be album of the year.



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Cognitive – Cognitive


Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? Can idol worship be metal’s most potent catalyst and yet be its biggest inhibitor to musical progression?

Let’s look at two of the most weight-carrying names in the genre, Slayer and Metallica. While their musical endeavors have led many a longhair to pick up an instrument and write their own metal, they themselves got a little inspiration from the likes of Venom and Diamond Head respectively. I guess what I’m getting at is that good musicians will want to play music like their heroes, but the truly great ones will take those lessons and create something fresh with it.

Venom makes future members of Slayer want to play guitar really fast. That vicious form of shred in turn inspires kids in Brazil to start Sepultura and play something even more ferocious.

Jobstown, New Jersey death metal quintet Cognitive fall under that good musician’s category. Obviously talented players that in the span of three years have released an EP and now a full-length self-titled album. That’s without mentioning that they’ve shared the stage with the likes of Broken Hope, Cattle Decapitation, and Wretched, to name a few. Most regional bands at that tenure are still struggling to put a recording together.

My issue with Cognitive is that they’re not doing anything we haven’t heard Whitechapel or Oceano do three albums ago. Its an LP that likely would have gotten them signed to a Century Media or Earache Records during the great deathcore scramble of 2007.

I say this because a track like opener ‘Cut the Fuck Up’ while very enjoyable and most definitely moshable sounds too much like it came off Whitechapel’s (very underrated) The Somatic Defilement. Then you have the more generic cuts like ‘Worlds Beneath’ that sounds like a song Carnifex decided to pass on. That’s not to say there isn’t a market for the stuff, i.e. notice the wave of success currently enjoyed by Thy Art is Murder. You just don’t want to get comfortable in that zone. To stay in that deathcore gray area lumps you with the Winds of Plague and Suffokate’s of the world. You do not want this.

But there is a silver lining here. Potential. Vocalist Jorel Hart sounds like a rabid bear and the real star is lead guitarist Jake Iannaco who shines brightest when tinging the songs with semi-melodic leads like in ‘Willingness of the Weak’. If Cognitive decides to blaze their own path instead of following the worn deathcore trail, they’ll cease to be good and become great.


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