All journeys begin with a few humble steps, and the soft taps on the piano keys that open PelleK’s latest album Ocean of Opportunity are no different. They bring up the adventures to be had and the lands undiscovered, yet are still full of hope and wonder, free from any discouragement or despair. They are laced with the innocence of wonder. All adventures may start that way, but as history tells us, the beginning is just a small, small part of the whole. It is no different with this album. Through nine songs spanning 48 minutes, PelleK takes us through many lands by sea and even air, and does so through a wonderful assortment of musical styles.
Norwegian vocalist PelleK, also known as Per Fredrik Alsy, who fronts Damnation Angels, is the creative mind behind Ocean of Opportunity, and quite a labor it was as he spent extensive time travelling and studying geography to authenticate the atmosphere of the story. With him on this album is Stian Warlow on drums, Patrick Fallang on guitars, and Ingemar Bru on bass.
The core style of this album is a progressive/symphonic metal, but it is done with a softer hand. There are some moments that do move, but the overall effect is trying to capture the grandeur of the journey itself, something it does fairly well throughout the album. The basic story is one of a common civil servant who has lost his wife, and embarks on a journey around the world to fill the void left by her departure. In the opening track Elucidation, there is a tremendous amount of anger displayed. The protagonist feels cheated by the world, he did what he was told to, and this was his reward. The band plays this part out well. From the hopeful opening minute, the song quickly turns to an emotional whirlwind, with PelleK’s anguished vocals leading the way. The second and probably strongest song of the album, Northern Wayfarer, is a tremendous beast of a song. We see the journey head up north, soft flute notes display the cold air. This one has power in full. Striking notes, both symphonic and the hard guitar chords, bridged by smooth drum fills, keep this song at a hard pace throughout. One of the things I truly appreciate about this album is how the musical stylings of each song fit the “chapter” of the journey that the man is taking. The cold waste of the northern seas above Russia come through clearly in this part, and each song hereafter contains its own unique color and flavor that pertain to the regional or emotional aspect specific to that part of the story.
Sea of Okhotsk, though symphonic metal at its core, has a certain sense of depravity about it. PelleK’s voice shines in this one, carrying over his four octave range well, and the hurried drums really help the imagery of impending disaster of being lost in the frozen waste of the near arctic sea. Brigantine of Tranquility has a strong Viking metal vibe, with the thunderously powerful chords and rapid rhythm keeping the marching pace of the song fast and hard. God’s Pocket blends the Viking vibe into a folk metal tone, creating a song that portrays the wondrous side of discovery quite well. Stars and Bullets covers the harsh, cutthroat era of gold rush era California. Being this writers home, I am quite familiar with this, and he does a very splendid job translating that era to a symphonic metal song, both lyrically and musically. The gold fever aspect is covered well, as is the despair when the reality sets in that only a few are lucky in this world. PelleK’s lyrical tone bleeds the emotional aspect of this one so well. He takes to the air in Sky Odyssey, floating in a hot air balloon, the soft fluttering notes give the feel of the floating sensation, while the harder symphonic chords show the wonder of flying. Transmigration is another of the fiercer songs, giving a proper feel to the arduous journey. Finishing the album is The Last Journey, the final and longest song on the album. In the fitting style of an epic, PelleK uses a variety of styles to close out the man’s trek across the world.
Ocean of Opportunity is a solid album, there is a deep story that is translated both musically and lyrically in a solid fashion. The amount of depth to the story, and the imagery portrayed is on the short side of wondrous, and the album is soft enough to be widely accessible. PelleK’s research, studies, and travels take the Norwegian on quite a journey, and the bands immense musical talents give quite a solid soundtrack for his adventure.