We are quickly approaching the end of the year, which means we have to start thinking about year-end best of lists and things like that. However, a couple of albums this week prove you can’t start too early.
The Ocean Collective – Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic (Metal Blade)
Arsis – Visitant (Nuclear Blast)
Psycroptic – As the Kingdom Drowns (Prosthetic)
The Ocean – Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic
Psycroptic – As The Kingdom Drowns
Decibel’s year end list is out and… I can’t shit on it! In fact, 5 of their top 10 are very likely to be in my top 20. You can find their list here: https://www.decibelmagazine.com/2018/11/15/spoiler-here-are-decibels-top-40-albums-of-2018/
We only listened to 4 of the top 10! And I say “listened” because Uada was a Bands Across America pick. In fact, counting that one, we listened to 9/40!
The Ocean’s 2013 album Pelagial is one of my favorite albums of the decade. I loved it when it came out and it continues to provide great enjoyment and rewards dedicated active listening even years later. So it probably goes without saying that I had high expectations for their new release Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic. Does it live up to those high expectations? It does not. Everything about Phanerozoic is a step down for me from Pelagial. Admittedly, that “step down” begins from a very high perch, but it’s clear to me that Phanerozoic won’t come close to the status that Pelagial holds with me.
In the context of The Ocean’s discography, Phanerozoic actually fits in quite nicely with the band’s releases. But it now seems clear that Pelagial is the outlier in the band’s catalog and that they struck gold with Pelagial and don’t have any of that magic left that they used up to create Pelagial.
Regarding Phanerozoic being split into 2 releases, bands often go into the studio one time and record 2 album’s worth of music at once. They will release one album then sit on the music they’ve already recorded then release the second album. This is what Metallica did with Load/Reload, Radiohead did it with Kid A/Amnesiac, and most recently Between the Buried and Me did it with Automata I and II this year. But my understanding is that The Ocean haven’t yet recorded Phanerozoic II, which makes this more of a continuing theme/story a la Coheed and Cambria.