When you hear the term “revelation,” you might think first of the countless verses that make the eponymous book of The Holy Bible. That which contains what are conventionally read as God’s final messages to mankind—messages as focused in redemption and renewal as they are in damnation and cataclysmic destruction. It is with a great emphasis on the latter that it becomes no mystery why Windy City overlords of oppressive and crushing deathcore chose Revelation as the name for the follow-up release to their 2015 masterpiece, Ascendants. Rivaled only by their full-length debut (and genre-defining work of art) Depths, Ascendants saw Oceano reclaiming their rightful title as one of deathcore’s heaviest hitters, adding to their resume a ruthless ability to groove and bounce as well as blast-beat and breakdown their way to the heads of heavy music fanatics worldwide.
So where are they in 2017—and how does Revelation compare to their impressive catalogue and lofty reputation? Well, the answer is that Oceano utilize the name of the ultimate entry in what is likely the most universally read and owned book in the world—an entry that summarizes the beginning and end of all things—and manages to make a release even more engaging and epic. To those still hung up on Depths (and part of me doesn’t blame them), Revelation may have the same difficulty in phasing them that the record’s predecessor did; however, there seems little denial to me that, in 2017, a time where much of the masses are still hung up on “teehees” and claiming that deathcore is practically dead-core, Oceano’s latest release is an earth-moving and unstoppable testament to the livelihood and relevance of straight-up, no-holds-barred deathcore.
Instrumentally, Revelation is a logical step forward from the somewhat divergent path Oceano embarked upon with Ascendants. A continued emphasis on spacious, stunning song structure that combines ambient aspects with ultra-aggressive heaviness pervades—with raunchy percussion from Andrew Holzbaur at the center of the band’s all-consuming and ravenous dynamic. Songs like the lead single, “The Great Tribulation,” do an excellent job of showcasing Holzbaur’s talent and Oceano’s enormous style—the unholy dichotomy between roomy, sprawling soundscapes and relentless heaviness—to a tee. Where the Holzbaur’s drums are every bit as catchy and creative as they have been since Depths (you’re fooling yourself if you didn’t fall in love with “District of Misery” at first listen—songs like “The Event” or “Dark Prophecy” will elicit the same response), bassist Chris Wagner’s looming, grisly and thick bass add sludgy and surreal heaviness to every skin-splitting second Oceano have to offer the listener. From the eerie onset of “Dark Prophecy” through the closing seconds of Revelation, Wagner adds dissonance and dreary despair to the album’s atoms with a depth to which there is no end. This is especially true where Wagner’s work with guitarist Scott Smith is concerned. Be it on the epic instrumental number “Final Form,” or through the album’s titular track, Smith is stunning, combining ear-catching groove to eviscerating, riff-driven power that demands recognition—not to mention how absurdly heavy his contributions to “The Event,” “Path to Extinction” and “Illusions Unravel” happen to be.
To speak of Oceano, however, is to speak of practically legendary frontman Adam Warren. I probably used the same exact line for the last two articles I wrote for Oceano, but that doesn’t make it any less true—especially in the eyes, ears and hearts of the band’s immense fan base. In a time where high-quality vocalists, especially for heavy music, are relatively easy to come by, Warren’s voice continues to stand on its own, thoroughly unique and un-imitatable. This is as true on songs like “The Event,” where his bellows add grit and heft to the lucid, dreary and dismal atmosphere that permeates the closing minutes of the track, as it is on high-energy anthems like “Dark Prophecy” and “The Great Tribulation.” Warren’s enormous growls and shrill, piercing shrieks define much of Revelation as they have defined the band’s prior releases, coating nearly every song in an acrid layer of lurid, putrid and powerful filth that follows the conceptual arch formed by Ascendants. Warren’s storytelling is blunt and bold—much in a manner mirroring his vocal brilliance—taking even the grooviest and most intricate patterns pummeled out by Holzbaur and grooved away by Smith to give them something solid and ferocious that anchors them into the listener’s ears as if held there by railway bolts.
With Warren’s vocals as stellar as ever—not to speak of his ability to craft inventive vocal patterns to keep up with the band’s amped-up and incredible instrumentation—Revelation is more than just an ideal follow-up to Ascendants. Instead, it is to its predecessor what Bad Boys II was to Bad Boys I—a stronger, bigger, more ambitious sequel that leaves its origin in the dust. With ominous and ultra-aggressive deathcore masterworks like “Pathway to Extinction,” “Human Harvest” and “Revelation” holding down the heavier end of the gambit, and “The Event” and “Final Form” seeing the band attempt slight changes of pace to great avail, there seems little question in my mind that Revelation is truly the ultimate entry in Oceano’s incredible tenure.
For Fans Of: Aversions Crown, Slaughter to Prevail, Shadow of Intent, Angelmaker
By: Connor Welsh