Ocean Architecture- Animus

Ocean Architecture- Animus



Ocean Architecture- Animus

Wed, 05 Dec 2012 08:08:38 +0000


Something special happened around this album, something I never thought fully possible. First a little background, the Lady and I have been sharing songs for a while, keeping each other aware of the little gems we find in our roaming. Now she knows very well that I am not a fan of the growl style of metal vocals, and other than a few exceptions, I tend to turn such songs off when they come around. The debut release of Tennessee product Ocean Architecture, Animus, did the unthinkable though, it made me change my ways, and did it in such a sneaky fashion. After listening to this brilliant album all the way through, I realized I never stood a chance.

Let’s get the details down first. In September of 2010, guitarist Kyle Standifer, drummer Nic Giordano, and keyboardist Joe Dorsey started the group in the college town of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and soon added bassist Eric Hodge. With the addition of vocalist Parker Deal in March of 2011, Ocean Architecture was complete, and more than ready to lay waste to the metal norm. According to Standifer, the chemistry amongst the guys was instantaneous, “The formation was really natural. It just kinda felt like we were supposed to be in a band together. We came up with our first song(Metaltheory) in like two and a half hours.” It was the start of their mission to set their own sound, to define who they were, and with authority, they did.

Now let’s get to the good stuff, shall we? Let’s see how this group of youngsters from Tennessee got to not only get this stubborn old guy to tolerate growl vocals, but to, after repeated listening, still rock out like an idiot in public to their songs. As I said before, they were sneaky about it. The album opens with the aforementioned Metaltheory, with soft piano and Deal’s capable voice singing some disturbingly dark lyrics. Not anything gore, or evil, but really dark lyrics of total loss and hopelessness, the things we all truly fear. Then they let loose with a brilliant introductory instrumental. These guys can play, seriously. The opener leads into the second track, The Last Stand, and the clean vocals start, but the band starts sneaking in the other vocal element, the growl. I am impressed, very impressed, with Deal’s range on both ends, the growls aren’t monotone like a lot I have come across, but they dynamic to them, they convey emotion. Musically, the song grows heavier as the growls become more prominent, the progression is brilliant. The guitar and keys move in and out of sync, carrying the song from its lighter to heavier elements with ease. The rhythm elements do their job thoroughly, pounding the song right into the listener’s heart.

Into the third song, Plato’s Cave, even the clean vocals seem to be tinged with a bit more hesitancy, a bit more fear. Midsong, the tone of the album falls off the cliff with a descending chanting of “spirals downward, spirals downward.” It is the beginning of some serious ass kicking. The raw brilliance of this band shines in so much of this album, they introduce so many elements from the varieties of metal genres into their work, and make them mesh together so well. There are moments where the listener can see they pushed it a bit too far, but they are so few and far between, and are so overwhelmed by the quality beat down the music is delivering that it really doesn’t matter. For a debut effort, these guys broke some serious ground. From the progressive moments to the hard pounding metal, they deftly handle all musical tasks they choose to undertake, even the ever difficult one of melding the sounds together to bring out something altogether new.  After working the various elements into and out of the first six songs, they settle into the final piece, the epic Animus delivered in two parts.

In the first part of the twenty minute Animus, the growl has taken over for the most part in part one, the clean vocal is just a passenger on this aggressive ride, making an appearance, but already having lost the battle. It is as if the two vocal stylings represent two sides of the same entity, the rational and the raw, just as our own base emotions behave. What we let out is rational, but beneath the surface, the feelings are almost violent in their undiluted state. In the opening parts of part two of the epic, we see the conflict start to come to a resolution, ”Removing these bars from the prison inside me, to find that I put them there.” Here the play between the growl and the clean vocal takes on genius level, as the emotions between the two halves come closer and closer together. This is an album of spiritual awakening at its core, and the subject is handled deftly. Even in the musical undertones of the album, the aggressive rhythm and guitar is countered by the delicate piano tones, aurally portraying the struggle between the two sides of self. The union of the two sides of sound, of the two vocal stylings, and the closing line, “The spinning Earth fails to skip a beat, six billion human souls are singing with me”, bring the album, and the listener, into another realm of being.

If this is their debut effort, the prospect of whatever comes next, and I’ll be dead honest here, scares the crap out of me. When Ocean Architecture gets really comfortable with what they are doing, there will be a ton of amazing music coming our way. In their bio, they state that, “The most we can hope for as artist is that people are able to find inspiration and feeling in our music……It creates a fire inside that you can’t extinguish, even if you wanted to. If we can make that connection  with just one fan, then we’ve done our job.” Gentlemen, I think this review plainly shows you’ve made that connection with me, but you’ve done even more than that, you did the task I thought was impossible, you made me love the growl.

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