Talk about putting your best foot forward, pulling out all the stops, or creating your own manifest destiny. Chicago's Oceanborn has certainly done so with their debut album Hidden From The World. From the lyrics and music to the production to the CD packaging to the online web comic book as a visual guide to the concept, Oceanborn is a first class act.
If Dream Theater has an heir apparent or possibly a modern rival, you might find it in Oceanborn. They certainly remind of that seminal prog outfit, maybe with a dash of Evergrey. They remind of early Dream Theater at times, perhaps Metropolis Part 2.
With that comparison made, the band offers a rich mixture of traditional melodic heavy metal, symphonic elements (from actual strings, including viola, violin, and cello), bits of classical and jazz, in a nice progressive wrapper. One thing Hidden From The World is not is progressive power metal. While heavy at times, there's no real crazy galloping moments here. On the vocal side, singer Lance Ferrel's voice and vocal arrangements remind of Michael Bellamy and Muse, but not causing Oceanborn to sound like the UK band. His intonations are subtle, going from lightness to more direct determination. However, in this mix, he often barely rises above the music; yes, you can hear him, but Ferrel seems to be fighting to stay above water. A good example is the song Of Despair, a heavier number.
Otherwise, the music of Hidden From The World is terrific: strong melodic progressive metal. Some songs are brisk, a bit heavy, but offering interesting interludes or segues within like The Descent and Lead Astray. The former has this kind of jazz rock fusion vibe that starts about half with drum, piano, and guitar. The latter, at the midpoint, drops down to classic piano segue with Ferrel's vocals lilting above. That piano and vocal arrangement leads In Shadows, possibly displaying Ferrel best vocal performance.
Another excellent feature of the band and the album is the fine guitar work from Christopher Lee and Dominick Camillo. The leads are spry, creative, and well though out without being pretentious, captivating both the aspiring or seasoned player or simply delighting the non-playing listener, such as myself. Notable examples come at the conclusion of The Descent, These Darker Things, and A Part of Nothing, quite epic. Conversely, on the longest, most expansive track, Reprise, the lead is more subdued, at least at first listen. It sneaks up on you, seems to stay even with the rest of the goings on, until it strikes some high notes, then you take notice and play the song again to capture it's nuances.
Like any good progressive music album, there should be lots more of those nuances, depths to explore, that keep you both interested and intrigued, and you'll find it within Hidden From The World. So I'll cease my average meanderings about this album and encourage you buy and explore it for yourself. Easily recommended.
Few debut albums by a progressive metal band, or any band for that matter, could be quite as good, intriguing, and entertaining as Oceanborn's Hidden From The World. They're off to a great start. Easily recommended.
Mat Sinner is both an icon and legend in the German, and the larger European, hard rock and heavy metal scene. Cranking out music since 1982, Sinner is an industrious and prolific musician and producer whether through his namesake band, the heavy metal heroes Primal ... [ Read More ]