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TRACK LIST: 1. Domain 17:27 2. Don't Look to Me 5:10 3. So Near Yet So Far 5:25 4. Dreams in Artificial Sunlight 3:32 5. Divisions of Time 5:16 6. Seven Days of Rain 6:11 7. The View to You 8:27 8. Instruments of Fear 4:14 9. The Future Remembered 4:18 10. Ghosts of the Past 4:24 LINEUP: Scott Mosher – guitar, bass; keyboards, programming Scott Oliva – vocals
Prolusion. The US duo OCEANS OF NIGHT is the creative vehicle of composer and instrumentalist Scott Mosher with Scott Oliva catering for vocals and some of the lyrics. The twosome made their debut with "The Shadowheart Mirror" back in 2009. "Domain" is their second full length production, and was released in the fall of 2011.
Analysis. If I were to be given a choice of one word to describe the music of this US duo, dystopian would be my choice. At least as far as their most recent album is concerned. There's a futuristic mood and atmosphere from start to finish, but a dark and sinister one. Slightly grimy in places too, at least as far as associations go. An album that would be a fitting soundtrack if someone ever decided to make a movie or TV-series out of China Mieville's "Perdido Street Station". And as with the massive novel mentioned, this disc opens in a grandiose manner, with a handful of lighter toned and relatively brief ambient segments caging in the beast that is the title track Domain. It’s massive, majestic and grandiose, epic in sound, construction and execution, with dampened lead vocals hovering on top of a synth bass dominated verse with guitar drone undercurrents that rise into massive walls of sound once the song leaves the verse for any sort of transitional phase or chorus. Futuristic keys and synths barely manage to escape the dark and sinister guitar riffs threatening to engulf them: a fantastic manner in which to open an album. The rest of this production never manages to recreate that peculiar dark magic of the opening piece. While shorter in length, these compositions are made up in a rather similar manner, blending dark, massive guitar riffs with lighter toned, futuristic sounds and well planned use of ambient effects and inserts. But unlike the opening epic, these tracks don't manage to cover this band's peculiarities. The most major of these is vocalist Scott Oliva, whose vocals skills will be an acquired taste. When restraining his delivery he’s got a fine, powerful voice, albeit with a tad too much vibrato for my liking. He seems to prefer using his voice in a more untamed manner however, with a distinct emphasis on high impact, emotional vocals that don't always manage to stay inside the common norms as far as harmony and melody are concerned. This manner of operatic-oriented lead vocals does have its followers, but for someone, who is more than overly sensitive about anything melodic, they don't always come across as a good fit. On this occasion they slotted in well quite often, but only rarely throughout a full track, opening piece Domain obviously the main exception. On a secondary note, the rhythm department isn't quite up to par. This is a band that creates rather sophisticated arrangements with plenty of subtle details, and in such a context steady rhythms with few bells and whistles applied don't quite fit. A minor point to most, I presume, but one of those small details that separate the good from the very good, the pleasant from the engaging. But there are a few additional highlights to enjoy on the "Domain" album. Instruments of Fear, Dreams in Artificial Sunlight and The Future Remembered are all efforts that manage to combine into fine creations with distinct moods and engaging atmospheres, the former piece perhaps the most intriguing of them, a sinister, repetitive affair that suddenly starts soaring when guitar soloing and keys are introduced at the halfway point or thereabouts. None of them are as engaging as Domain however, this epic opening piece one that warrants an inspection by those who prefer their progressive metal to be dark, majestic and ominous in expression.
Conclusion. Dark, bombastic progressive metal liberally flavored with futuristic keyboard sounds and ambient moods is what Oceans Of Night provides on their second album "Domain". The epic beast of a title track is arguably the best reason to examine this disc, as long as you like music of this character. How much the rest of this CD will be enjoyed depends very much on your taste in lead vocals. If you enjoy operatic-oriented, emotional vocals chances are good that you'll love the other tracks too; if you don't, then this is a disc that warrants a closer inspection prior to a purchasing decision.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: December 11, 2012
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