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Oceans of Slumber - The Banished Heart

Label: Century Media
Format: download
Released: 2018
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: 10/10

Oceans of Slumber’s March 2018 release, “The Banished Heart,” is a more than a masterpiece, it's an important and beautiful glimpse into Metal’s future. There's so much to love about it, I'm not sure where to begin. No, that's not true. . . I know exactly where to begin:


The greatest distinguishing quality here is Cammie Gilbert’s voice, angelic, sexy, and brimming with sensuality and emotive power. Quincy Jones once said of the “Thriller” record that it would have been a great album regardless of who was singing it, but that Michael Jackson elevated it to something beyond all expectations (paraphrasing). I'd say something similar for Gilbert’s vocals. This would be a very good album if performed by a mediocre singer, but with Cammie on the mic, her once-in-a-generation ability elevates this to something stellar. She holds the majority of the voice duties, with occasional interludes of growl, and one accompaniment of clean male vocals in “No Color, No Light.” Their Beauty and the Beast structure is most akin to their brilliant Swedish Doom contemporaries, Draconian (if you haven't heard Draconian’s “Sovran” album, then go find it and listen to it), just with more priority to the clean female lead.
Oceans of Slumber’s sound ranges from In Flames to Opeth and Nevermore and Arch Enemy to Metallica to Evanescence and Lacuna Coil and Sevendust to Mike Oldfield and Tangerine Dream to Pink Floyd. There’s a great diversity from one track to the next, moving from Doom and Melodic Death to quiet pianos and synths, with a common undercurrent of brooding sorrow and sadness. The keys and deep guitars are among the most gorgeous set decorations you’ve ever beheld, with Cammie always radiant in the spotlight. The drumming is athletic and usually effective, but at a number of points, the frantic blast attack feels unnecessarily busy, and at odds with the music around it.
It’s not all about the great band sound, however. On “The Banished Heart,” Oceans of Slumber serve up intricately and intelligently-plotted songs, crafted with painstaking attention to detail, evident in the complex interweavings of the melodies and the different parts within each composition. The workmanship shows. The songs are not just admirable pieces to dissect and examine; they’re also exquisite to experience, and most will turn up in your playlists for years to come.
“The Decay of Disregard” is the instant-classic opening track, and at 9 minutes in length, an interesting choice for the lead single. The next few songs each have excellent moments, especially the amazing title track, but “Etiolation” at track 6 begins a flawless run of amazing music to finish out the second half of the album, culminating in the stunning, quiet, majestic, haunting, Folk-ish beauty of “Wayfaring Stranger” in the final slot.
This album is a starmaker - - for Cammie Gilbert and everyone involved in Oceans of Slumber. If there’s any sense in this crazy world, then “The Banished Heart” will bask in accolades and recognition as a landmark, one of the beacons shining Heavy Metal’s path into the future. Don’t miss it.

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