Metal Hammer (UK) - - Reviews - ADAM REES

The Ban­ished Heart

CEN­TURY ME­DIA Emo­tion­ally dev­as­tat­ing, pro­gres­sive doom from the Lone Star State

With sec­ond al­Bum

Win­ter, Hous­ton’s pre­vi­ously lit­tle-known Oceans Of Slum­ber an­nounced their mu­si­cal ex­per­i­men­ta­tion and Cam­mie Gil­bert’s cap­ti­vat­ing vo­cals to the world stage. While it still holds up two years later, the al­bum now pales in com­par­i­son to their lat­est, The Ban­ished Heart, which finds ever more af­fect­ing ways to pull you into its 65 min­utes of emo­tional tur­moil. Os­ten­si­bly draw­ing from the north of Eng­land’s Par­adise Lost/My Dy­ing Bride/Anath­ema axis of the early 90s, but shat­ter­ing any no­tions of what con­sti­tutes a genre, ev­ery song weaves all man­ner of styles and ideas into its ab­sorb­ing nar­ra­tive. Blasts of drums erupt un­der­neath mel­low gui­tars one minute, sub­tle elec­tron­ics nav­i­gate shat­ter­ing riffs the next, never re­tread­ing the same ground. Opener The De­cay Of Dis­re­gard tra­verses all man­ner of ridges and deep ravines as it pushes into ev­ery cor­ner of the con­science while Eti­o­la­tion an­chors a plethora of tech metal bursts as it main­tains its soul­ful iden­tity.

On mu­si­cal terms alone, all this is enough to strip you de­fence­less, but it’s when Cam­mie en­velopes the mu­sic in her gor­geous, melan­cholic voice that you re­alise you are on a soul-search­ing voy­age. Af­ter tow­er­ing pil­lars of death metal, At Dawn de­scends to evoke the same haunt­ing beauty that Chelsea Wolfe and Myrkur en­thralled the metal world with in 2017, while the frag­ile pi­ano-led ti­tle track rises from Tori Amos’s naked vul­ner­a­bil­ity into cin­e­matic grandeur. Yet it’s the sim­plest track, with the equally emo­tive voice of Ever­grey’s Tom S Englund trad­ing off with Cam­mie over repet­i­tive, de­spair­ing riffs, that leaves the long­est, most cathar­tic im­pres­sion. Born of per­sonal loss and an­guish, The Ban­ished Heart is an achingly hon­est master­piece fraught with both up­heaval and hope that con­nects both band and lis­tener to a pri­mal sense. Yet cru­cially, its in­di­vid­u­al­ism and bound­ary-al­ter­ing brav­ery is pro­gres­sive in the truest sense of the word and ul­ti­mately im­pos­si­ble to re­sist.


Oceans Of Slum­ber: im­pos­si­ble to re­sist

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