Humans crave familiarity—no matter who you are. Even the most adventurous and brazen amongst us will always have moments where push comes to shove and the last thing you want is to be greeted with change. Unfortunately, the saying rings true—change is the only constant—and like it or not, we, as mankind, are powerless to stop it. This is true in all walks of life, but it’s doubly true in the case of Chicago-based deathcore legends Oceano, and their latest juggernaut, Incisions. Leaps and bounds more developed and mature than their previous releases, Incisions lures the listener into the mindset of a psychopath with a newfound respect for immersive and haunting atmosphere, while retaining Oceano’s penchant for bone-splintering, bold-faced, unstoppable brutality—making this release one which witnesses a band not just changing to stay pertinent, but changing to craft the most ruthless—and unpredictable—music the genre has to offer.
The listener’s first sensation upon beginning Oceano’s third studio album is—appropriately enough—one of sheer, blinding pain. The same familiar, dissonant crunch and crushing heaviness mimics the snap and splinter of the listener’s bones and the screeching, twinging agony of splitting skin is what Incisions thrusts upon the listener. In this respect, Oceano don’t leave their already extensive fan base completely in the dark—“Eternal Wasteland” weighs down upon the listener with what feels like all the darkness and density of an infinity. “Self Exploited Whore” showcases the band’s penchant for a different modicum of brutality—that of razor sharp precision and dynamic, crushing songwriting. Sections of mind-numbing dissonance are placed perfectly amidst fields of lacerating, technical percussion and intense, dense fretwork to jump out of the woodwork and ambush the listener, splitting their kneecaps and tearing at their tendons. Whether it’s the tried-and-true use of drop-of-a-dime changes in tempo from the precise percussion, or the meaty, thick layer of grime cast over the listener by the ferocious downtuned assault of the guitars, Incisions is laden with all the lachrymal heaviness one would expect from an album by these Windy City Titans of deathcore.
As Incisions progresses, however, and the listener begins to bleed their sanity out onto the pavement, the bands inclusion of haunting, immersive atmosphere becomes more and more evident. Tracks like “Severed Appendages” take the beaten and bewildered listener and shroud them in a cloak of suffocating density—using ominous atmosphere and ethereal effects to creep into their throats and settle in their lungs like cement. The newfound respect for a deeper, more dynamic use of atmosphere comes, in part, from a new vocal style—found in the single “Slow Murder,” along with “Embrace Nothingness”—which sees Oceano embracing more than nothingness. In fact, it displays a band embracing a nu-metallic vocal style in an effort to more brightly display their entire cavalcade of influences. While this new vocal style at first seems hit-or-miss at best, the listener finds themselves slowly getting reeled in and caught on its captivating hypnotism. Passages which at first seemed whispered in an odd and out-of-place manner eventually seem to flow as smoothly as a river of melted butter, and getting stuck in the listener’s head for days. While Oceano have always been heavy, and certainly have sparingly used atmospheric elements in their songs, this is the first time the band can ever truly be described as catchy.
A newfound combination of the “good ol’ Oceano” and a refreshing respect for a more refined and precise atmosphere is what makes Incisions such a precise and deep cut through the look-a-like, sound-a-like hordes of deathcore releases. Where Oceano faltered and stumbled at times with their tedious effort Contagion, Incisions is capable of standing tall with all of the strong backbone Depths’ heaviness held, and a prominent ribcage of emotive, provocative new material spanning out from either side. Where an inclusion of new vocal elements make “Slow Murder” and “Embrace Nothingness” standout examples of the band’s progression, more subtle hints can be found in the epic instrumental track “Disservance.” It is on this track where the instruments are capable of palpating and functioning as a comprehensive unit, inhaling and building up in a marvelous union, only to exhale and blow the listener clean off of their feet. This track is nearly analogous to the instrumental sections of Depths, but, in keeping with the duration of Incisions, includes a more mature attitude which keeps the listener engaged.
Cutting deep into the listener’s sensibilities and sanity, Incisions is an intense experience which is the brilliant culmination of Oceano’s maturation as a deathcore act. One part mind-numbing emotion and atmosphere with another part spine-shrinking heaviness, Incisions is full of cuts which will bleed the listener out, leaving only room for a flood of newfound appreciation for a band which many might have written out.
For Fans Of: Whitechapel, WolveXhys, Towers, Within the Ruins
By: Connor Welsh