After facing over 40 lineup changes since their formation in the year 2000, The Ocean have had a lot of trouble establishing themselves into one genre since their sound has varied greatly over the years.
Pelagial is defined as living on or near the surface of the ocean. All of the song titles go in order from the highest (in elevation) ocean zone to the lowest, since the lyrics and music represent a descent into the very bottom of the ocean. Just as the ocean’s pressure builds and the light diminishes, the tone of the album becomes heavier and darker as it goes on.
The album starts off with “Epipelagic”, a light, instrumental track with subtle sounds of water and bubbles. This leads right into “Mesopelagic: Into the Uncanny”, which has a really upbeat metalcore feel. After that is the Bathyalpelagic trio, which is the best part of the album. “Impasses” starts off heavy, but then blends into a really soft piano part, which soon accompanies the most dynamic and emotional vocal part on the album. “The Wish in Dreams” matches “Impasses” in terms of intensity, but “Disequilibrated” is much heavier than the two and has a few riffs that simply cannot be played at low volume. “Abyssopelagic I: Boundless Vasts” is basically a reprise of parts heard in the tracks previous and leads into “Abyssopelagic II: Signals of Anxiety”, which is a ballad to end the first half of the album.
“Hadopelagic I: Omen of the Deep” is a short interlude track that marks the change into the much heavier and darker tracks that are to come. “Hadopelagic II: Let them Believe”, the longest track, seems to take inspiration from Opeth and Tool (toward the end). “Demersal: Cognitive Dissonance” is a much heavier track and seems to drag on at points, (mainly at the “fall on us, fall down on us” parts). It definitely fits with the dismal tone that’s supposed to be present since the album represents a journey into the depths of the ocean, but that doesn’t necessarily make it enjoyable to listen to. “Benthic: The Origin of our Wishes” is a very slow, extremely heavy track that serves as the end of our journey. Again, this track is highly symbolic as well, but just drags on and the riff repeats a few too many times, getting slower each time.
Overall, Pelagial is a very symbolic album that’s definitely more enjoyable if you read lyrics along to it (especially toward the end). Musically, I’d say it’s above average, but with all of the themes, lyrics, and symbolism, it’s definitely an album worth listening to. Aside from the last two tracks, the rest of it is fantastic and we give it 4 out of 5 stars.
Reviewed by Justin Repp