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The Ocean, Helsinki Suicides

I like listening to metal records, but I rarely go to metal concerts. Strangely, it's mostly the idea of having to endure the music at ear-splitting volumes that turns me off. The dirty secret of metal records is that most of them aren't actually that loud. If I were to play a Finntroll record at home or in the studio and follow it up with an acoustic record by, say, Dave Swarbrick, the first couple of seconds of the Swarb record would have me running to the deck to turn the volume down.
Metal producers create the illusion of loudness by using heavy compression and saturating the mid-to-high range. Soundmen at metal concerts do the same, but also turn the volume way up.
Tonight, though, I went to a metal gig at Vera. I wanted beer, Jeroen wanted to see a gig, so we quickly arranged to combine the two. And it has to be said, metal is always good for drinking beer to. The acts on display were The Ocean (warning: Flash-based site with sound), supported by The Helsinki Suicides.

I came into Vera*) from work at about 22.30 when the Helsinki Suicides were about to end their set. I popped my head into the auditorium, but quickly decided to head for the basement bar, because I wasn't hearing any music here. Hysterical distorted buzzing and screaming, yes. Music, no. That isn't to say that I wouldn't have learned to recognise it as music by, say, 2009. Metal's quest for the most extreme sound means that it pushes that boundary relentlessly. I wouldn't have recognised Napalm Death as music in 1989, but it actually sounds tame now.

A couple of minutes and a beer later, Jeroen and I went back upstairs to check out the headliner. They were.... interesting rather than actually good. The Ocean are a seven-piece consisting of two guitarists, a bassist, a keyboardist, a drummer, a singer/percussionist and a death grunter. They've got some nice sound textures going, and their symphonical influences kept the concert interesting nearly to the end, but what I didn't hear was any good songwriting. I've noticed that that happens a lot with bands that have a grunter - that style of singing just doesn't carry any melody well. But without songwriting - and it doesn't have to be very complex songwriting to keep me happy - what you end up with is a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing. I had fun at the Ocean concert, but already I can't recall what I've been listening to.


*)That line alone should get me the search results from hell

Comments (1)

sidsel:

Well, about lyrics... The Ocean come from Germany, and the lyrics were, as far as I understood, in English. I guess that explains it. They putt up a good show though - i left before it got boring.

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