One thing I’ve learned during the course of my brief career as a PROGNAUT music reviewer is the ever expanding categories and sub-categories within the progressive rock community. And while acquainting myself with the 11 year history of OCEANSIZE I’ve discovered yet another descriptive sub-genre from the band’s MySpace page … Progressive Death. Couple that with an array of other descriptive categories attributed to the band’s unique sound – Progressive Rock, Post-Rock, and Space-Rock - and it may leave you pondering, “what pleasures await me inside”?
Well what you can expect from their third and latest release “Frames” (produced by Chris Sheldon) is a complex, dynamic collection of impressive music that represents the next phase of progressive rock – a sort of PINK FLOYD for the new millennium.
This British outfit can be sandwiched into the same category as the quasi-progressive bands that have reshaped and re-energized the current face of progressive music, bands like PORCUPINE TREE , TOOL, TORTISE, RADIOHEAD, THE VERVE, and GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR.
Their music is a tapestry of moods and textures from brooding and melancholy soundscapes to aggressive progressive metal; masterfully crafted and arranged, and augmented by polyrhythm and complex time signatures – no boring 4/4 drum beats here.
Lyrically, the message on “Frames” is on the abrasive side as suggested by lead vocalist Mike Vennart – “there’s a return to spite, like on the first album – a lot more venom.” So add another name to the long list of angst ridden rock and roll bands with anger management issues.
Manchester ’s Kings of Post-Metal – as they have been crowned - consists of Mike Vennart (guitar, lead vocals), Steve Durose (guitar, backing vocals), Richard ‘Gambler’ Ingram (guitar, keyboards), Steve Hodson (bass, keyboards) and Mike Heron (drums).
The opening track “Commemorative ________ T-Shirt” is very much in the PORCUPINE TREE vein. At first I thought I was listening to out-takes from the “Deadwing” or “Fear Of A Blank Planet” recording sessions. Vennart’s vocals are nearly indistinguishable from Steve Wilson.
Alex Lifeson and RUSH immediately come to mind as “Unfamiliar” roars to life with the signature power chords one associates with the Canadian trio. Elements of older prog pioneers like RUSH, PINK FLOYD, and KING CRIMSON are just as much a part of their sound as the new prog Turks.
“Trail Of Fire” is a stand-out track that might have been a melodic hit single if FM radio was still a dominant force in the industry - very commercially accessible, tightly constructed, a great hook, and fantastic vocals.
“Savant” is an epic gothic drama opening with a stark synth oboe dirge that eventually expands into a full blown rock symphony with a smattering of SMASHING PUMPKINS tossed in for good measure.
“Only Twin” is another stand-out track reminiscent of the morose atmospheric cynicism of Roger Water’s solo work … dark and moody with a mean-spirited bite.
“An Old Friend Of The Christy’s” is the type of epic Goblinesque filmscore you might find in a Dario Argento horror movie. The eerie instrumental opus begins as a gothic funeral march, evoking an atmosphere of doom and dread before exploding into a sonic crescendo. Zeuhl ‘rock in opposition’ artists like UNIVERS ZERO, MAGMA, and ART ZOID immediate come to mind as the tune develops into a masterpiece of 21st Century Chamber Music.
“Sleeping Dogs And Dead Lions” is dominated by aggressive trashing guitars and demented processed vocals … not my cup of tea. This reminded me of some of the less palatable avant-garde CRIMSON tunes I tend to skip past on “ThrakAttack”.
The band saved the best for last. “The Frame” is a beautifully constructed piece of work that begins innocuously enough with little more than a lone guitar quietly plucking a single note, then layer upon layer a new element is introduced until a wash of musical textures build to create a cacophony of sound. Amidst all the angst and chaos that permeated throughout the CD the band opted to close “Frames” with this beautifully symphonic uplifting tune, ending the experience on a high note.
“Frames” is released as a two disc set, which includes the CD and a 120 minute bonus live DVD of the band performing the album in their rehearsal hall. No fancy video production SPFX or throng of adoring fans to cheer them on – just an honest bare bones live performance with enough raw energy to power-up a small Midwestern town. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on July 28th, 2009