AN NCS ALBUM PREMIERE (AND A REVIEW): OCEANA — “THE PATTERN”
It has been a long time coming — a very long time — but on January 29th the Roman band Oceana will release their debut album The Pattern through Time To Kill Records. But it seems the time is right, even if the album is arriving 25 years after Oceana’s debut demo and EP, and the strength of the new album is such that fans of progressively inclined melodic death metal will be grateful the band did not die an early death.
Given the passage of so much time, all will be forgiven who are unfamiliar with the band. It was the brainchild of Massimiliano Pagliuso, who has been the guitarist for the Italian band Novembre throughout those same 25 years, and it was he who revived Oceana, bringing together original drummer Alessandro “Sancho” Marconcini and another old friend, Gianpaolo Caprino, as second guitarist.
How the rebirth happened, and the themes that inspired The Pattern, are subjects addressed by Massimiliano Pagliuso in an extensive statement that you will find below. What you will also find below is a full stream of the new album, preceded by a few reactions of our own.
When Oceana was first formed, the intent was to mix progressive metal elements with European-style death doom. We’re told that the references, from a musical point of view, ranged from Edge Of Sanity to Katatonia, from Paradise Lost to Duran Duran, from Metallica to Dream Theater. Even in this new album, decades later, you can still hear many of those influences, but you’ll also discover that the songs reflect a consistent “personality”, even though the songs are multi-faceted in their conception and arrangements.
The music does have its fair share of hard edges, but it often has as much in common with hard rock and progressive rock as it does with extreme metal. And thus the songs include a range of vocals, from high, soaring song to ferocious growls, and savage snarls. The songs also incorporate shifting tempos and changing moods. They include darting and jolting riffs and fervent solos, neck-cracking snare beats and hard-charging gallops, but also stately cadences and soulful melodies.
Some of the moods are shaded by melancholy, or become taught with tension and strained with anguish, and others seem wondering and reflective, but brightness frequently flares in the music as well. And like everything else, the soloing is also wide-ranging, sometimes slow and soulful and at other times fleet-fingered and ebullient (the guitar work throughout the album is certainly one of its shining strengths).
All of the songs embody changes, though some (like “Hiding Lies” and “A Friend”) are more hard-charging and fiercely vibrant, while others (like “Violet”, “A Lament”, and the album’s anthemic closer “The Unforgiven”) seem more dark and distraught. “Carousel” joyfully spins and dances around sparkling guitar notes and rippling piano arpeggios, and it also includes a rare burst of battering drumwork. The chugging grooves in “Spoiled” will give your neck a good headbanger’s workout, while “You Don’t Know” is both mesmerizing and pulse-pounding.
In “Atlantidea Suite Part 1”, the band stretch themselves into a 14-minute opus, by far the longest of the album’s 11 tracks, and not surprisingly it’s the most multi-faceted of the record’s songs, incorporating in one place many of the band’s musical interests, including those progressive influences (though those are evident across the entire album).
We hope you enjoy the full stream of the album — and after the stream you’ll find info about how to pick up the record, as well as the promised comments of Massimiliano Pagliuso, which provide further insights into what you’re hearing.
Time To Kill Records will release The Pattern on CD, 2LP vinyl, and digital formats on January 29. The album was recorded at Blue Noise Studios by Massimiliano Pagliuso and at The Outer Sound Studios by Giuseppe Orlando. Mixing and mastering were handled by the great Swedish producer Dan Swanö at Unisound Studios AB. The cover art was created by none other than Travis Smith, and the band’s new logo was crafted by Daniele Valeriani.
Pre-order opportunities are available through the links below, and then after that you’ll find the afore-mentioned statement about Oceana and The Pattern by Massimiliano Pagliuso.
Big Cartel: https://timetokillrecords.bigcartel.com/category/oceana
Comments By Massimiliano Pagliuso
The idea of awakening the band from this long “lethargy” that lasted 25 years came out in my house, in December 2018. I still remember the scene … from nowhere, I asked Alessandro (the drummer): “What do you say about a new Oceana record? “… and he replied without hesitation with a sharp “Yes.”
The day after we started with the pre-productions.
Calling Gianpaolo (the second guitarist) was automatic, as was his consent. I can say that, having been friends since 1992, we had no problem getting back working together, just as we didn’t need any break-in period.
The idea behind the title The Pattern comes from our approach to themes such as the holographic universe, sacred geometry and, in some way, quantum physics / mechanics: in particular, we were struck by the Hartmann network and the Curry grid, topics related to geo-biology.
We can say that there are areas (or rather, “meeting points” between various energy lines) where, apparently, there are advantages or disadvantages if you want to live, stop in, build up or sleep, for example. On the electromagnetic level “something happens”.
The subject has intrigued me a lot since I noticed differences in psychophysical well-being based on where I was (a bit like described in “Feng Shui”).
By linking certain topics to geo-politics, we enjoyed making parallels with our society, finding curious and interesting ideas.
I believe that there are places in the world where malaise is more present and others where mental and physical health is favored: we cannot deny the existence of nations that are particularly in difficulty, just as we cannot fail to notice the tranquility and ideological balance of other countries.
If I had to explain what the artwork in our album represents, I could say that we wanted to metaphorically describe a world in decline, where the few survivors of a mass extinction (caused by wars, pollution, religious / political conflicts) find themselves gathered in prayer, under a huge Torii (sacred portal in the Japanese culture).
I would like to clarify that we are not talking about a prayer in a “religious” sense, but a real request for help from the “above”, whatever it may be.
Travis Smith was, as always, a real Artist, managing to translate the “mood” we had in mind into images.
The album was recorded in my home studio, except for the vocals and acoustic guitars, recorded at Outer Sound Studios by my great friend Giuseppe Orlando (INNO, The Foreshadowing, Airlines Of Terror, CO2)
Dan Swanö, who was in charge of mixing and mastering, is and remains my greatest influence from all points of view both as a composer, as a musician and producer. We couldn’t have called anyone else instead of him and he was very respectful towards our sound and our material; I still keep the screenshots of him complimenting us for pure personal satisfaction! 🙂
Reading certain things, written by your idol, is priceless …
Unfortunately, this situation linked to Covid19 slowed us down a lot as well as creating many problems related to promotion… despite everything, Enrico Giannone (the Boss of Time To Kill Records, as well as the singer of the Undertakers and Buffalo Grills) did, and he’s doing, a great job making this time less difficult. We can do nothing but thank him publicly.
Oceana is ABSOLUTELY not my personal project, but a real band, which is why we can’t wait to start doing gigs and tours wherever is possible. Our music is meant to be seen and heard live.
This is fantastic. An unexpected new discovery. Thanks, NCS!
Thank you Vince!
I agree with Vince. Been listening to it nonstop, very good