Vera : Our first encounter with the female-fronted Oceans Of Slumber happened with the vinyl MCD ’Blue’ in autumn 2015. Before that the band released a debut album ’Aetherial’, but that was with a male singer. Even when the MCD included mainly covers, the way they represented them made us curious for this full length album ‘Winter’. By the way, initially it was planned to call it ‘Memoriam’.
It appears to be a musical experience with elements of all kinds of styles and genres from the last fifty years. We will not sum them up, because we have half a page of scribbled lines then. However, we should mention that the band has its roots in the nineties doom/death/black and it is great that we can hear that several times. Cammie Gilbert is a brilliant vocalist and she gets a lot of room to prove that in the by drummer Dobber Beverly written songs. A drummer as main composer, it exists, but we instantly want to add that the four other musicians sail through the songs with progressive suppleness as well. The music is often chock-full and intricate, but they regularly strip down the songs to the essence. You need several spins before you can judge, yet ‘Winter’ breathes and causes steam upon the icy windows.
Oceans Of Slumber throws the two most complex songs on our plate right away. Lap it up! Title track ‘Winter’ begins calm with the spotlights on Cammie’s pure voice, but when guitars join in, it sounds dissonant and progressive. They even accelerate the pace with howling guitars. And then those guitarists bring in their harsh vocals, firstly rough as Mastodon, later long drawn out shrieks out of death and black metal. In the meantime they pummel merciless and they work towards a climax in the ‘Kashmir’ (Led Zeppelin) way. The murky riffs from ‘Devout’ announce doom-like slumbers, vocals are ominous low and weighty. When you watch the video clips from ‘Winter’ and ‘Suffer The Last Bridge’, we see musicians doing their thing in all seriousness. Consequently the band loves majestic grandness and a cinematic approach. In ‘Devout’ it gets even that chock-full that we think of Ne Obliviscaris for a moment. Again those raucous screaming parts in contrast with the smooth chants of Cammie. It is a bit weird to hear the Moody Blues cover ‘Nights In White Satin’ next. Yet it is a beautiful, melancholic song, here without backing vocals but with heavy ending inclusive guitar solo. ‘Lullaby’ is a short song – partly a capella – rooted in Cammie’s family. Totally different again is ‘Suffer The Last Bridge’, by far the most accessible and catchy track. The band calls it ‘driving arena rock’, we soon love it and enjoy the rocking vibe. In the somewhat more thoughtful songs ‘Sunlight’ and ‘Turpentine’, Cammie’s singing prevails. The heaviest song that the band has ever written is called ‘Apologue’ with tight staccato rhythms and once again a proper harsh throat addition of the guys. Cammie wades through it all with dignity and sings imperturbable during the hacking guitar heaviness. Piano and sensitive vocals are the start of ‘… This Road’. One may call it a semi-ballad and when vocals get more powerful, it really reminds us of Sinead O’Connor. Same momentous drama. Dobber calls it an epic farewell. As final chord we have ‘Grace’ and that is a piano recital. In between the proper songs, we hear shorter, introvert interludes. This is a musical adventure that illustrates the development of the Texas based band in all its glory.