|Ocean Chief have produced an album which should not be overlooked by any
followers of this criminally unknown three-piece.|
|'Den Förste' is Ocean Chief's third release in three years,
following two outstanding split albums with first Runemagick and then Kongh. The
album is about as compact as OC get, with three tracks, none clocking in
near 20 minutes. 'Den Förste' is about half the length of any previous OC
album, and though this seems atypical of the band it is no more than symptomatic
of their spontaneous, out-of-studio recording process. If you didn't know, these
guys are prone to simply sauntering into their rehearsal room to jam and come up
with some riffs, and after a couple of days walking back out with the finished
This is exactly what happened with 'Den Förste', and it is because of this off-the-cuff and informal process that the results of OC's labours are so often unexpected, but also easy-flowing and unprocessed. The album's brevity emphasizes the feeling that OC's work is continual, organically flowing across their various CD and vinyl releases. It hasn't been dragged out to twice the length it needs to be. The songs themselves bear looking at individually to emphasize the expansion in Ocean Chief's sound.
The title track begins with a simple bass guitar growl, which is returned to later in the track. The song is built around the lower depths of the band's sound. A full two minutes is dedicated to that mournful bass guitar, a synthesizer used to create a roiling backdrop that you might miss the first few times through. Compared to the striking chant of 'Freja', or the Nordic wail of 'Gathering Souls', Larsson's vocals here are relatively pushed back, a harsh but distant grating over which the instruments are prioritized. The fuzzy drawl of Bjorn Adersson's guitar illustrates a glacial main riff which eventually gives way to a more rhythmic section, sounding more dangerous and bluesy than previous Ocean Chief efforts, comparable to Black Sabbath's 1970s output on ketamine.
'Tomrum' gets things sounding even more sinister and bottom-heavy. The main riff is introduced immediately and doesn't let up for the duration of the song, with other sounds instead building on top of it. Towards the middle this riff begins to develop, lifting into Doom-drenched climaxes before teasingly dropping back into the same few notes, an eerie echoing guitar sound played over it towards the end. The mix on the album starts to matter here. Although this is still a very heavy album, the production allows for a good deal more clarity than usual. Most noticeable is the guitar, which makes more space for the drums than before amongst its bludgeoning wall of sound. An exercise in restrained writing and minimalist execution by the band that goes off without a hitch.
The 16+ minute finale 'Sång' has a more deliberate tread, and is more diverse than the preceding tracks. From whirring sampled sounds to screeching guitar fills and a driving main riff, the song is abundant with the various voices of Ocean Chief's instruments; hence the title. The crawling, dragging mid- section is the climax, the guitar solo a shivering whine over the guitar and drums which seem stuck in a repetitive throb. The remainder alternates between that crushing Doom riff and the synthesized ambience the band has flirted with throughout the album. 'Sång' is triumphant, bringing the album crashing inexorably to its ponderous close.
Although the album has taken longer to hook me in than previous works, it should not be overlooked by any followers of this criminally unknown three-piece. It will grow on you; it will take its time, with the patience of the stoned Doom monster it is. Much like when you happily toke away, not realizing how high you're getting until you attempt to make your way through a short sentence or complete a simple physical maneuver, the album surreptitiously enters your mind and starts dismantling synapses. At some point you realize you've just listened to 'Den Förste' four times in a row, and are thoroughly engrossed.
1. Den Förste
Duration : Approx. 37 minutes
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