Genre: Progressive Power Metal
Release date: March 17, 2016
Ken Lyngfoss – Vocals
Lazz Jensen – Guitars
Geir Nilsen – Bass
Nickolas Main Henriksen – Keys
Nicolay Ryen Christiansen – Drums
2. Save You
3. Pray for the Dying
5. Show Me the Way
7. Black Death
9. Grapes of Baccus Pt.1
10. Grapes of Baccus Pt.2
11. Grapes of Baccus Pt.3
12. Grapes of Baccus Pt.4
Sometimes a favorite album can come from completely out of nowhere, either from a band you’ve never heard before, or a band you had long forgotten about. This has happened to me numerous times over the last few years, and the most recent example is with Norwegian band Oceans of Time. I had heard their debut Faces back in 2012 and liked it a lot, but over time it never really stuck with me, so I wasn’t exactly anticipating a new album. Nonetheless, when I saw they had a sophomore album out, titled Trust, I decided to give it a listen and I was instantly blown away by how much more polished it sounds and by how incredibly consistent the songwriting is. The album quickly became one of my favorite progressive power metal albums of the last few years.
Stylistically, Oceans of Time are fairly unique, in that while some bands play either straight power metal with occasional prog elements, or a more prog based sound with occasional power metal elements, the majority of this album features a fluid mix of the two, as well as a bit of symphonic metal on and off, seamlessly blending the styles together throughout most of the songs. I’d describe the album as being equal parts speedy, heavy, calm, melodic, catchy and complex, and they pull it off extremely well. The songwriting is also quite varied, ranging from more straight-forward faster songs, to slower, more crushingly heavy tracks, occasionally balladry and some much more complicated songwriting, but amazingly enough the quality is equally high on every track, which is a tough feat to accomplish with such varied songs.
While the musicianship is very impressive and technically proficient, vocals play a major role on the album, and vocalist Ken Lyngfoss certainly does an excellent job throughout. He has a fairly gritty tone to his voice that carries a lot of power and fits in well with the heavier parts, but he’s also capable of singing very softly and he sounds excellent on the more melodic sections. He also has a ton of support, with some nice sounding female vocals showing up on a couple tracks, most notably on the title track, as well as guest appearances from Jorn Lande, Pagan’s Mind singer Nils K. Rue and Ole Alexander Myrholt on the four part “Grapes of Baccus” suite that closes the album.
One of my favorite songs on the album comes right at the start with the incredibly addictive opening track “Charon”. After a brief orchestral intro, the track speeds up quickly and right away the heavy, technically impressive guitar work and epic sounding keyboards kick in and the song takes off, giving way to one hell of an impressive chorus, and a pretty awesome solo section. It’s definitely one of the faster tracks on the album, and also one of the catchiest, but it still has some pretty complex instrumental work going on as well. Things immediately take a turn for the unexpected with “Save You”, a more keyboard driven track that starts out feeling like a simple power metal song, before softening up completely and becoming more of a theatrical, classic sounding prog track during the chorus, and this mix continues throughout the song, showcasing how well the band can blend the different sound together and not lose track. The heavier track “Black Death” is similar, in that it starts off feeling like a more traditional power metal track, but its chorus is definitely more proggy and features a nice mix of keys and vocals.
On the flip side of those tracks, we have “Pray for the Dying” and “1865”, which start out slower and have some very technical instrumental work during the verses and solo parts, the former on the heavier, more guitar driven side, the latter softer and more keyboard driven, before fully speeding up during the chorus. Perhaps the most straight-forward track musically is the title track, a mostly up tempo track which features some great supporting female vocals that work very well with Ken’s vocals. One track I initially was unsure of but ended up loving over time is “Nemesis”, a slower paced track that features some very crushing riffs and powerful vocals during the verses, sounding like a very modernized prog metal track, before the chorus comes in and is extremely melodic and features probably my favorite vocals from Ken. That’s probably the most addictive chorus on the album as well. But the most surprising track on the album is probably “Show me the Way”, a much more theatrical sounding power ballad, with some nice choir vocals during the chorus. The song may be a bit off putting to some, but I love it and I think it has another one of the best choruses on the album.
In case the rest of the album wasn’t already amazing, we have the grand finale, which comes in the form of “Grapes of Baccus” a four part suite featuring various guest vocals throughout. It’s by far the most ambitious song the band has attempted to date, and it certainly delivers. Highlights include a great instrumental section to begin part I, the excellent vocals of Jorn Land to close out part I, some really cool growls as well as an amazing reprise of the title track on part 2, the really cool vocals of Nils K. Rue on part 3, and a really flashy piano solo, as well as a nice instrumental section to end the album on part 4. As expected, the song is very complex and features several tempo changes throughout, but at the same time there’s still plenty of instantly memorable vocal sections, and it feels like they pulled everything together to give the album the outstanding finale it deserves.
Overall, Trust is a fantastic sophomore album which delivers a seamless blend between progressive and power metal elements, as well as extremely varied but consistently impressive songwriting, and some excellent guest vocals, to help make it my favorite progressive power metal of the last few years, and one of my current top 5 albums of 2016. Oceans of Time is definitely a band to watch out for, and I hope this album gets them the attention they deserve.
“Show Me The Way”… From The Album “Faces
Reviewer: Travis Green