Thursday, March 6, 2014
Ocean Chief - Sten
'Sten', Swedish for stone, is doomsters Ocean Chief's fourth full-length album but only the second sung in their native tongue...and man, my fellow Swedes are absolutely relentless. True to the album's title, 'Sten' is hard, heavy, imposing and threatening like a gigantic inhospitable mountain. But once you set off to reach the summit this turns into a soul searching journey. Full of shamanistic traits, these disciples of Odin simply go from strength to strength.
Never prone to take conventional measures Ocean Chief stay true to themselves as 'Sten' is "only" 4 tracks short but actually clocks in at a massive 71:47 minutes! That might seem long but trust me, every second and every feature counts and fills a distinct purpose. Even more so since the album is shamanistic in nature. What I mean is the songs need to be as long as they are in order for the listeners to be able to comprehend what the band is actually saying with the music and the lyrics. In short, this is the celebration of the life of vikings and their worship of Odin as well as the Earth. It's about cultivating what the Earth gives them in order to survive but also to make weapons from it to protect their world in battle so they eventually will reach Valhalla. Keep in mind though, you need a shitload of talent to pull a recording like this off. Because if you don't and instead half-ass it, you're going to crash and burn...fast! As confident as these guys are with each other and as talented as they are, 'Sten' is colossal as it is mighty!
Slow, brutal and punishing 'Den Sanna Styrkan' is the catalyst into the journey the band is about to take us on. Catching me off guard for a moment the sheer power the music radiates is unrelenting and it kicks me in the balls with no intention of stopping. Pulling myself together and bracing myself for the onslaught is the very moment I learn to embrace the world of Ocean Chief. Drummer Tobias Larsson's voice is gravelly and commanding meaning you immediately pay attention to his words while the music is pulverizing you. How he does it while bashing the drums to pieces is beyond me. Live keyboardist Johan Pettersson has been made a fulltime member and his addition has brought new angles to the band. Whenever his work is added, usually in the more trippy parts a huge sense of erieness and impending doom comes over me. And that goes along so well with the more powerful side of the rest of the band.
'Slipsten' continues where 'Den Sanna Styrkan' left off but Ocean Chief slows it down slightly opting for the guitar and keyboards to float on top of the bass guitar and drums conjuring dreamlike visions. A war song if there ever was one lyrically guitarist Björn Andersson plays a mind-bending solo towards the end that, when I close my eyes, I quickly drift off even further seeing things I never imagined before.
Didn't think it was possible but on 'Stenhög' the band are even slower. The focus is on power and it is brutal! A homage to Earth and the mountains and what is extracted therefrom...the material to make weapons. Not only that, it tells how much a viking strived to honour Odin and become like him but also how they tried to make the right choices.
'Oden', Odin - the Allfather of the gods, is even slower than the other three songs on 'Sten'. As Jocke Pettersson's bass guitar and Tobias' drums sets the pace the guitar and keyboards again play on top of it creating sounds and visions of the creation of the universe. About halfway in when the vocals kick in Ocean Chief go all out and simply annihilates. The pace is fast and punishing, no mercy is shown as the band celebrate Odin. All of a sudden only the keyboards are present playing solitary, creepy segment before the band joins in again.
If you want your doom slow, heavy and dream-inducing look no further. Ocean Chief definitely set the standard and the bar extremely high with this master piece. 'Sten' is the perfect introduction to this band if you have never heard them before but I urge you to check out their previous releases. All their albums are really good and shouldn't be ignored at any cost. Because Ocean Chief are the real deal you hear!
För jävligt bra gubbar. Lyfter min bägare i Odens ära!