(TheMadIsraeli is no fan of deathcore in general, but in this post he confesses and attempts to explain his love for Oceano’s 2009 debut.)
I know what a lot of you must be thinking. Is he fucking shitting me? No, I am not.
Anyone who keeps himself or herself apprised of metal should know who this band is, because they are one of the first stars of the second wave of deathcore along with bands such as Suicide Silence and The Acacia Strain. You and I do not need to rehearse the beef with deathcore by metalheads of a more purist sort. For the most part and in the case of most bands, I agree that it’s shallow, insipid, immature, half-assed death metal. But I believe Oceano, on this album in particular mind you, had something going for them. I honestly don’t know if I can define it, but of course I will try.
Depths has a very strange character. Its mix matches its title perfectly, with a very open yet hollow shape to the sound and an odd echo surrounding all of the instruments and the vocals. It sounds like a recording engineered inside an ancient underwater cave infested by demon-spawned sirens. This is one of the elements that gives Depths its weight and a mood that other deathcore records simply don’t have. It’s distinctive for this reason alone. The important part, though, must of course be what lies at the core — the music itself. What to say about that?
Oceano embraced typical deathcore elements for sure, but I would say they embraced only the base foundation of the sound. The breakdowns are there, as are the high/low/mid-range vocal threesome provided by Adam Warren (all on his own — an astounding feat, if you ask me), the chug-heavy riffing, and the occasional touches of melodic death metal. Depths is much more than this foundation, however, with riffing that is still more technical and focused than any produced by the band’s peers at the time (before others began wearing the official tech label).
The songwriting is also absolutely superb. My problem with standard deathcore breakdowns lies in the fact that they are not set up, nor introduced, nor foreshadowed properly. They are most often simply thrown into songs for the sheer sake of it. Oceano, however, seemed to realize this was a failing. Every single breakdown on this album is set up with such drama and grandiose pomp that I find it really hard not to start smashing things when they do occur.
And then there’s the fierce, lightning-speed tremolo riffing, both dissonant and melodic, combined with then-guitarist Adam Mikhail’s memorable and tasteful solo’s, which pop out of nowhere. The album also stands out so much for me because of the combination of its unusual production and the band’s particular choice of cadence and rhythm. Certain sections of this album, such as the entire mid-section of “District Of Misery” and the instrumental title track, are in that respect like nothing I’ve heard before or since.
To my ears, Adam Warren is also definitely the best vocalist deathcore has yet produced. I realize that he was very polarizing because of how over-the-top he was, but I really think in this style you either go big or go home. This is — and I mean it in a non-insulting way — stupid, brutal music with no concern but inflicting Neanderthal head-cracking with rock in hand. If a vocalist doesn’t plan to throw down in like manner, I really don’t see the point in fronting a deathcore band to begin with.
I like the fuck out of this album! Something about it is just magnetizing to me. Criticize me all you want, but I think in this case it turn outs out that a (generally warranted) prejudice against a style of music has led many people to gloss over a truly outstanding album. It’s brutal, it’s fast, and it’s even dynamic, with many well-placed transitions. I sincerely think it deserves another chance from the metal community.