Label: GS Productions
Given the their name and title of their debut EP, there’s no awards for guessing that Greeks Ocean Of Grief play doom metal – specifically, melodic death/doom. What isn’t obvious from the title and cover, though, is that these five tracks are of incredibly high quality, striking just the right balance of melody and heaviness, sorrow and aggression. Catchy, cathartic, and full of great hooks, Fortress Of My Dark Self is a reminder of just what can make melodic death/doom so appealing.
The mood and tone is set right from the first moments of opener “Spiritual Fortress”. Mournful guitar melodies combine with a weighty rhythm section, whilst subtle, tasteful keyboards enhance the bleak atmosphere created. The vocals are a death-metal growl throughout, adding to the heaviness of Ocean Of Grief’s sound. It’s quickly clear that real time and effort has gone in to crafting these songs, most notably with the way the guitar melodies move; rather than follow the vocal lines or chord progressions, they soar above them, taking the music in interesting, emotional directions. Nor do the band rely on these melodies; there are sections where both guitarists focus on the riffs, both guitars playing in unison to give them real punch.
Melodic death/doom is a path that is well-trodden, with the “rules” pretty well established and plenty of bands playing this style of metal. As with many other genres where this is the case – whether it be three-chord punk rock, frostbitten black metal, or ultra-slow doom – the true mark of success is how convincing the band in question are, and whether they make the fundamentals sound interesting and exciting again. In Ocean Of Grief’s case, that is certainly true; they may not challenge convention, but they make those conventions sound almost as if they shouldn’t be challenged. Don’t misunderstand, it’s not that Ocean Of Grief are generic or derivative – rather, they present the core melodic death/doom sound in such a way that it feels as if there is practically nowhere left for the style to go. That’s not true of course, but it’s to their immense credit that the band can create that impression.
After all, what you’ll generally be coming to music like this for is some kind of emotional release, and that’s exactly what Ocean Of Grief succeed in delivering. As sorrowful as these songs are, they never sound depressing or draining. Instead, Fortress Of My Dark Self is a hugely cathartic record, its mix of rage and mournful melody sure to help raise you out of whatever emotional pit the modern world may have placed you in. It’s a prime record to lose yourself in for an evening, letting it carry you away, until you release yourself from its hold, strengthened, refreshed. Alternatively, at 26 minutes long, it works just as well as a short burst of doom, for those times when a full-length is just too much; and, impressively, still achieves a comparable state of catharsis as over longer listens. For such a young band, it’s quite a remarkable achievement, and Fortress Of My Dark Self hints at much bigger things to come.
Fortress Of My Dark Self can be streamed and downloaded via Bandcamp.