Vera : A band like Oceans Of Slumber is worth his weight in gold! We were already flabbergasted by their previous album ’Winter’ (2016), but what we hear on the new one ‘The Banished Heart’ goes even deeper. Literally, since the lengthy compositions are written while the main songwriters (drummer Dobber Beverly and female singer Cammie Gilbert) emotionally went through strenuous times. How they transformed these feelings into emotive songs, is really admirable.
And again we feel unable to put this in one pigeonhole or genre, but that’s what we like. Isn’t it the highest achievement to create your own brew from all possible influences? One could say that it has the nearest approach to doom, due to the sorrowful fight to conquer all troubles. Often the pace is slow and sultry while pitch-black grief reigns all over. On the other hand one might call it progressive metal, because the numerous twists and turns and some of the intricate runs flirt openly with this technically skilled genre. Yet there is quite some fragile sentiment involved as well, quiescent passages contrast heavily with the more than ever scorching brutal parts. We are guided through this wealthy spectrum of emotions by the pure sounding voice of Cammie. She has prowess and moves full of dignity – even a bit imperturbable – through all kinds of different moods that hit you like a rollercoaster during the first spins. This album needs to grow, but when you take the time to listen to these 65 minutes of music again and again, you will surely be rewarded.
We kick off this record – just like the ‘Winter’ album – with two long compositions in which lots of things happen. The influences of nineties doom are still noticeable in ‘The Decay Of Disregard’; it manifests itself rather slow and sung with low voice, relished with kind of sludgy guitar sounds and repetitive passages. In the calm starting ‘Fleeting Vigilance’ we hear male grunts of the guitarists again, but also the emotive guitar leads are ace. All these ingredients are present in ‘At Dawn’ too, while the title track is even quite introvert all over, with piano and fragile female vocals. Very captivating. A misty instrumental intermezzo leads to the self-destructive ‘Etiolation’ in which various vocal parts resound on a bed of restless prog-like guitar accents. The hectic, nervous instrumentation continues in ‘A Path To Broken Stars’, but the vocals are lovely and female. We come into calmer areas during ‘Howl Of The Rougarou’ and ‘Her In The Distance’ to prepare us for the duet with Tom Englund (Evergrey). ‘No Color, No Light’ is truly a highlight with that idiosyncratic melancholic voice of Englund in juxtaposition with the nearly sacral chanting Cammie. We occlude with the sensitive folk/gospel song ‘Wayfarer Stranger’ with soaring music. This is a comprehensive piece of work that will give you many hours of listening pleasure!