Oceano describe themselves as, “the heaviest, most pissed off band on the planet.”
Their claim of being the heaviest could be rightly justified after one look at a picture shows them to be no strangers to the gym and artificial muscle enhancement products. In the words of Eric Cartman, “Beefcake!” With one of the band’s own slogans being, “bringing the beef,” this comparison easily sprang to mind. The band even admit on the website of their label Earache that;
We may not be the heaviest, but we are certainly one of the heaviest or angriest.
This is most definitely where the humour stops.
The first track on the band’s second album, Contagion jerks into life after a silent intro with the chime of monstrously down-tuned guitars and guttural death vocals follow not long after. The band continues to pummel the listener with deathcore brutality throughout the remainder of the album and each song seems to blend into the next with little differentiation. The lyrics are difficult to pick out at best (especially if they’re not written out in front of you), with any sense of melody discarded in favour of a straight-up bludgeoning. The lyrical content reveals a sense of discontent and anger at the world in which Oceano live, so much so it sounds like it’s probably best not to visit them at home in Chicago.
This is pain. This is real bloodshed. You're surrounded by suffering
– Precursor to the Enslavement
The theme Contagion alluded to in the album’s title is found in many of the songs here, creating the suggestion that Oceano expect their music to be passed along from person to person like some contagious disease, fully enveloping whomever comes into contact. It may do for some, but these are likely to be existing converts to the deathcore cause. For everyone else this will simply be another deathcore album that isn’t trying to break out of the scene or do anything different.
The guitars are so dense and bassy it’s difficult to discern any meaningful riffs until the pace is dropped during the breakdown sections, but they are then reduced to a typical chugging, allowing the listener to catch their breath before the next section kicks in. Dotted in places throughout the eleven tracks are attempts to bring in a slightly more varied set of influences, although the range still remains fairly narrow. Suffocation and Cannibal Corpse being an obvious pair, but there are subtle hints of more European fare such as Behemoth alongside deathcore contemporaries like The Acacia Strain and Job For A Cowboy, with a tiny hint of Randy Blythe in the vocal delivery.
‘Exist In Confinement’ showcases the only melody to be found on the record with a slow emotive guitar fill (it’s not quite a full-blown solo) backed by a slither of orchestration, with a narrator style voice over providing a welcome contrast to the heavy riffing.
Listening to Contagion, it becomes apparent that the deathcore scene exists almost in its own self sustaining bubble. Metal fans that are looking for shear brutality from the first second until the last will turn to death metal to avoid the slower breakdowns and at times scattered percussion. Hardcore punk fans will probably find it too dense and impenetrable to really get into. Everyone else will probably miss the melody, song structure, lyrics and rhythms that can be found in much more easily digestible pieces elsewhere.
You probably know many people that during their formative adult years weren’t afraid of holding angry and controversial views of the world around them, but have mellowed with age and relaxed somewhat. If the bubble of deathcore is solely about being pissed off and angry it will surely burst eventually as the main protagonists leave their early 20’s behind. Until it does though, you could do a lot worse than pick up this latest effort from Oceano.