Those prog diehards who remain resistant to embracing extreme metal and its versatile, adventurous ethos would do well to spend some time with Oceans Of Slumber.
The Texan band’s debut album slipped under the radar back in 2013, but thanks to the arrival of new vocalist Cammie Gilbert and an upgrading of their exploratory sound, they return sounding more distinctive and emboldened. It would be wrong to say that Gilbert makes all the difference. Songs like the opening title track and the wildly contrasting Devout, with their thrash metal detours and powerful air of ethereal menace, ooze confidence and wide-eyed creative wonder. But there’s no denying that Oceans’ sound is inspired by the melodic possibilities their new figurehead provides. Her strong, soulful voice soars over the heavier, more grandiose moments, but Gilbert is also capable of great fragility and pathos. As if to affirm their prog credentials, there’s also a glide through Nights In White Satin, but Oceans Of Slumber have such a strong identity that nothing here sounds contrived or tentative. Instead, Winter is a masterful example of progressive metal’s liberated spirit in action.