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(47:19, ‘Oceans Of Night’)
TRACK LIST: 1. A Way from You 4:08 2. Living in the Past 8:26 3. New Machine 4:28 4. What's Left of Me 6:35 5. A Violent Reflection 6:34 6. The Last Goodbye 4:55 7. Two Worlds Apart 5:36 8. War inside Myself 6:37 LINEUP: Scott Mosher – guitar, bass; keyboards, programming Scott Oliva – vocals
Prolusion. The US outfit OCEANS OF NIGHT is made up of composer and multi-instrumentalist Scott Mosher and vocalist Scott Oliva. And while the involvement of both as permanent members separates this from Mosher's previous solo work - he has issued four of those – this newly founded band is first and foremost a creative vehicle of Mosher so far. "The Shadowheart Mirror" is the first album by this band, and was issued in the summer of
Analysis. Mosher describes the music of Oceans Of Night as ambient progressive metal. It's a description with a good sound to it, but personally I found it to be not quite satisfying. Progressive metal and AOR appear to be the main ingredients, with a few select atmospheric synth-based passages that probably answer to the ambient part of Mosher's own presentation of his band’s musical effort. And I might add that the progressive elements in the mix are far from dominating – this is more of a somewhat stylized metal effort, and to my ears lacking too much in terms of sophistication to be regarded as progressive by a major part of the followers of this many-faceted stylistic direction. The prevalent features of this production are stark contrasts and almost pompous dramatics. Gritty, dark guitar riffs and lighter, floating synth textures form the opposing sides of the sonic tapestries, with archetypal metal vocals provided by vocalist Oliva when Mosher isn't soloing on guitars or synths. The tracks are slow to mid-range in terms of pace, and hard hitting, energetic rhythms account for most of the propulsion. Slow synth-dominated passages with dreamy tendencies cater to the aforementioned ambience and provide variation as well as most of the progressive parts of this production. While the compositions themselves come across as well worked out in general, containing a fair amount of good ideas, there are a number of elements that distract in a negative manner throughout this disc, besides the relative likeness of the songs that makes this album a rather one-dimensional one. My main gripe is the vocals of Oliva. He's got a powerful voice similar to Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden fame in expression. However, he's not too good at restraining his voice, and although his delivery seems to stabilize itself as the album moves forward, the vocals come across as too overblown, dramatic and pompous for my taste. An additional aspect is that the voice seems to be just a tad out of touch with the main melody, although I suspect this is due to the mix and production rather than the vocal performance as such. A second highly distracting element is the drums. It's very obvious that the rhythms are programmed, and in a negative manner. They appear mechanical in sound as well as performance, and do not add any subtle elements whatsoever to the proceedings. And as far as subtle elements go, the mix and production hide most of what might be present of those. First and foremost due to the guitar, when not soloing, coming across as a fuzzy, muddy, distorted, dark, snarling carpet bombing of the soundscape. It's not as bad as one might infer from the description, but it does give the guitar a primitive texture and it tends to drown out the finer details in the composition.
Conclusion. If you enjoy stark contrasts in music, generally find melodic heavy metal to be interesting and you fancy typical dramatic metal vocals added to that mix then chances are that "The Shadowheart Mirror" is an album you'll enjoy. But if sophisticated ventures and compositions made and performed with a great deal of finesse is to your liking, or if you're looking for challenging, creative and innovative progressive metal, chances are that you'll feel less than satisfied with this effort. In particular if you should be sensible to vocal performance or the production-related aspects of an album.
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