The Ocean Heliocentric

The Ocean Heliocentric
The Ocean clearly have very little regard for the expectations of critics or fans, as has been proven over the course of several full-lengths that have run the gamut of varied instrumentation to multifaceted conceptual content. While their overall aesthetic and thematic uniqueness are as unapproachable as ever, long-time listeners will find Heliocentric to be their most accessible work to date, and one's enjoyment will depend on how much one is willing to forgive its flaws and let a smidgen of pop into their life. The most noticeable change is in the vocal department, with very little airtime given to harshness of any kind, and a clear focus on clean, grunge-inspired crooning. This, combined with a much more streamlined songwriting approach, featuring everything from hooky choruses to a full-blown piano ballad, will likely send many of those that purchased their last couple of more metal-oriented efforts running for the hills. The album also feels underwhelming in scope compared to prior releases, with a mere ten songs, two of which are effectively interludes, simply not offering the vision and challenging intricacies of their past work. While a collective known for curveballs may have stepped a bit too far outside their comfort zone this time, they are not a band wrought of limitations and will likely continue to experiment until their demise. Those not willing to jaunt through an unexpectedly serene and palatable neck of the woods are, with this album, being advised to stand aside and make way for those that will. (Metal Blade)