Monday, August 4, 2014

Ocean Chief - Universums Härd

Not long after I reviewed Ocean Chief's brilliant third album, 'Sten', news filtered through that they were about to release their fourth platter of wax, 'Universums Härd' (The Hearth Of The Universe). Still doing what they do best, playing heavy sludgy doom and honoring Odin, things have changed. A second guitarist, Christian Sandberg, has been added to the fold. There are more songs on the album and they are shorter and faster. You can call it natural progression because 'Universums Härd' is a Ocean Chief recording if there ever was one, but these changes have grown out of necessity and serve the band's agenda perfectly.

Guided as always by founding members Tobias Larsson, drums & vocals, and Björn Andersson, guitars, as well as long-serving bassist Jocke Pettersson, Ocean Chief went for an old recording formula. 'Universums Härd' was captured live in the studio, and by doing so the band's brutal and punishing sound has moved to a whole new level of existence. Add to this Johan Pettersson's magic with the electronics and new axe-wielder Christian and the dynamics on the album are greater than ever.

Amidst all the heaviness another shift has occured. Previously Ocean Chief induced trance-like feelings in parts of their songs, but those parts have always had a sinister touch to them. On 'Universums Härd' three tracks deviate from that norm. Instrumentals 'Färden', 'Frihet' and 'Vandringen' bring ambience to the music which allows the listener some respite, a chance to recuperate and reflect if you will. But not only that. This trio of songs also acts as a catalyst where the band takes us to dimensions unknown...and man they are trippy in the best possible way!

In all these changes is where Ocean Chief's greatness reigns. Apart from constantly evolving, they still manage to retain and reinforce their identity. Because 'Universums Härd' is very much an Ocean Chief album. No question about it. Alterations here and there have not changed the purpose of the band and who they are. This, in combination with their excellent musicianship and songwriting skills, has really pushed them into a whole different league. And they will conquer!

For long time supporters of the band I truly believe this release is a revelation, it is for me! A few might complain that the band shouldn't change at all but you always have those "trve cvlt" regression worshippers. For the rest of us it's a pleasure to see a great band pushing the envelope like this and go for what they want to do. And when the end-result is an album like 'Universums Härd'...then glory awaits!

- Swedebeast

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