REVIEW: Ocean of Illusions – Ocean of Illusions [EP/2018]

Artist: Ocean of Illusions

Album: Ocean of Illusions


Perception is a series of patterns and stimuli observed, experienced and retained by our senses and ascribed significant meaning by several areas of our brain—that’s it—that’s the basis for how we identify with and occupy our surroundings. While it sounds simple, the pathways are complex and involved, laden with twists, turns and decussations that leave plenty of opportunities for our perception to be mis-ascribed to our true surroundings.

That’s the basis for an illusion—a trick designed to take advantage of the ways in which our brain can misinterpret coded electrical stimuli.

Ocean of Illusions—like any good masters of trickery and deceit—also take advantage of this, to a point. Using technically infused, outrageously heavy and crushing, groovy deathcore as their tool, they wage a subtle and devious war on the listener’s senses. The band’s 2018 release—an EP with a modest runtime and plenty of material—is an example of their immense maturity since their debut, as well as a testament to the integrity of aggressive music as it stands today. Brutalizing where it needs to be, riff-laden and progressive elsewhere, topped off with vocal prowess and solid, humble production, Ocean of Illusions might sound corny by their name, but—in keeping with their name—the listener is in for a surprise.

Ocean of Illusions waste very little time in bombarding the listener with their progressively inclined style of skull-splitting deathcore. From the first real moments of “Mask of Sanity,” guitarists Chris Castano and Josh Held work excellently together, using the percussion from Kedwin Ramirez as a sturdy foundation. This builds with every track Ocean of Illusions’ self-titled effort has to offer, with songs like “Jaws of the Infinite” and “Jukai” deserving special mention for Castano and Held’s excellent work, weaving together catchy, thick grooves with razor-sharp leads and traumatizing breakdowns all in one. Meanwhile, Ramirez’ percussion is nothing short of excellent—and while it might not absolutely drop the listener’s jaw with speed or technicality, it is crisp, punchy and does exactly what it needs to do in order to give Castano and Held—filled out by the low tones from bassist Michael Monalto—a hard-hitting and cohesive dynamic. “Jukai” especially highlights this aspect of the band’s work together, with moments of near-ethereal atmosphere that seem cleverly, creatively and fluidly sprinkled between segments of spine-shredding, flesh-melting aggression “Shifting into Mortality” places a little more emphasis on the band’s ethereal elements, in contrast—just as the two opening tracks are ruthless, bloodthirsty and unyielding in their onslaught on the listener. The point is such that the band—built by Ramirez’ percussion, given weight and firmament by bassist Monalto and made truly engaging by the furious fretwork from Castano and Held—create catchy, fun, heavy and intelligent deathcore that brings a variety of elements to the table in an effort to combat stagnation.

Ocean of Illusions continue their foray into sharply-honed and horrendously heavy deathcore with the efforts of Zachary Howard, the group’s multifaceted frontman. Boasting a broad array of styles and an impressive ability to switch up his candor from ferociously fast to punishing and slow, Howard adds an extra dimension to Ocean of Illusions for the listener to fall in love with. While—like others—he might not be the next big name in deathcore’s saturated vocal stratosphere, he remains a force to be reckoned with all the same. From the eerie and aggressive “Mask of Sanity,” through “Jukai” and “Shifting into Mortality,” Howard lays waste to the listener’s ears with screeching highs, bitter low growls and everything in between. A short-but-thorough release, Oceans of Illusions’ 2018 album sees Howard growing into a more diverse and talented vocalist, moving outside of his comfort range to crush the listener beneath the band’s collective gauntlet of gritty, grim aggression.

Ocean of Illusions might come across a little…well, corny, with their name—but what the listener gets is nothing but some of the most unfiltered, purely-cut and creative deathcore to emerge in 2018. Combining groove, hints of progressive stylings and a splash of technicality to offset the brute-force bludgeoning brutality of the bulk of the record,  Ocean of Illusions wreak all sorts of havoc with their self-titled EP, making it a well-rounded record any fan of heavy music should give the time of day.



For Fans Of: Adhara, Oceano, Nexilva, Martyr Defiled

By: Connor Welsh