The Ocean - Precambrian
The Ocean describe the concept of Precambrian as stemming from the genesis of this planet, Earth’s formative years serving as the inspiration for their two disc epic.
Precambrian is a geological term that refers to the first chapter in the evolution of the earth. Precambrian is composed of a mini-CD with 22 minutes playing time entitled Hadean/Archaean and a full-length CD with 62 minutes plying time, entitle Proterozoic, both referring to successive geological eons within the Precambrian. The songs are divided into 5 subordinate eras, with the song-titles carrying the names of subordinate geological periods.
While this is certainly an intriguing concept (one that snared me immediately) it is one that is seemingly difficult to enact. For while Precambrian is a fantastic entry in the world of expressive metal, it doesn’t necessarily conjure up the imagery of a planet’s birth and formation.
A large part of this slight problem is the inclusion of vocals. For some reason, a human’s narration over the instrumental imagery totally rips the listener from the theme. And even though we can’t expect a band to suddenly exclude vocals from their repertoire, they do inhibit the full immersion into the intense concept of an uninhabitable and enraged planet. The lyrics are not narrative of the time but more philosophical and routinely address the human condition, existentialism, and (strangely enough) consumerism. The track “Statherian” makes the engrossment even more difficult by including a quote from the film The Life of David Gale, which may be profoundly metaphorical but hardly serves in perpetuating the illusion of a lifeless, erupting rock. The concept of a newly birthed planet, it would seem, is simply the backdrop for more modern rhetoric.
Which is fine and, with all of that said, Precambrian is still a monstrous album. It’s a great inclusion into the growing genre of metal that includes the likes of Neurosis, Isis, Pelican, etc. even if Precambrian doesn’t exactly reinvent said subgenre. The album offers all the intense peaks and valleys that enthusiasts of this brand of metal would enjoy and, at times, flexes some incredibly skillful musicianship. It does little to carve its own identity amongst The Ocean’s peers but this does not keep Precambrian from being a solid album and a sure favorite amongst those who find their preference of metal to be that of the progressive kind.
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