This album is frustrating on so many levels, for me as a fan of heavy music and also for me as a reviewer. The most frustrating aspect from a reviewer’s standpoint is trying to figure out what kind of genre label to slap onto the untameable beast that is “Aeolian”. It has the heavy-handed chug of Hardcore, the straight-forward brutality of early Death/Thrash Metal, the discordant and chaotic riffing style of Math-core (most notably MESHUGGAH), the occasionally mechanised and melodic elements of Industrial Metal, as well as a range of guest vocalists (6 of them, if you can believe it) that tackle almost every vocal style known to heavy music. Oh and this album also has some violins, pianos and other brilliantly utilised classical instruments. Sound like overkill? Not at all, this is brilliant.
The one thing that is abundantly plain about this album is that it’s damn heavy. Whether it be the straightforward grooves, high tempo sections, or the pounding discordant riffs, this band will kick the shit out of you. Every time I’ve partaken in listening to this album I have been left with a throbbing headache, which I’m accrediting to the wonderfully thick and brutal guitar tone. Props to Metal Blade on that one, they have endowed this album with a production heavy enough to bludgeon a hole through the head of any but the most hardened of Metal fans. Not only is the guitar tone great, but all the instruments are weighted perfectly, with nothing dominating the mix and unbalancing the music, like so many bands tend to do.
I mentioned earlier that this album was not only frustrating to me as a reviewer, but as a fan of heavy music. The frustration on that level is due to the fact that this album goes for 10 minutes to long. As a result of this unnecessarily long playtime, some moments tend to lose inspiration. Its hard to pinpoint any song in particular that is bad, per say, because many songs are quite long and can change from fairly uninteresting in the first 3 minutes, to becoming one of the strongest tracks on the album (“Killing The Flies”).
This album is a pretty hot contender for making my ‘Top 10 of 2006’ list, but unfortunately I feel it’s hampered by its excess of material. If THE OCEAN had been perhaps a little bit more succinct in their song writing then this album would have been looking at high 9, maybe even 9.5 territory. As it stands, this album is still a formidable weapon, yet it’s a weapon that’s had its edge dulled by overly expansive song writing. Despite the shortcomings of “Aeolian”, it is still an incredible album and very easily worth a purchase if you’re in anyway a fan of bands like MESHUGGAH, CONVERGE, BOTCH or NEUROSIS. (Online May 3, 2006)