A darker, heavier and more elaborate work than their critically-acclaimed 2015 album Winter, The Banished Heart portrays Oceans Of Slumber as creative souls in the midst of a creative and emotional splurge, lost in the act of venting and purging through some of the deepest and darkest music the metal underground has conjured in years. Although still proudly channeling the melancholy spirit of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s UK death/doom scene, Oceans have evolved and expanded in myriad new directions, embracing a more grandiose aesthetic in tandem with an enhanced sense of emotional volatility and rawness. Epic by design and in execution, but acutely personal and intimate on a conceptual level, the songs on The Banished Heart showcase a refined musical vision from a band with nothing but honesty and honor in their souls.
Sonically huge and yet exquisitely detailed, it's an album full of both bold brush strokes and tiny, meticulous touches. As diverse as it is cohesive, The Banished Heart hinges on the sublime chemistry fizzing between all five members of the band: from Sean Gary's wild, malevolent riffing and fellow six-stringer Anthony Contreras' walls of resonant atmospherics to bassist Keegan Kelly's unbending low-end backbone, it's a dazzling ensemble performance that reaffirms Oceans' mastery of dark, skewed melody. Conveying deep, dark emotions, all beautifully and soulfully expressed by Cammie Gilbert, it's an album of bewildering diversity: it flows seamlessly from flat-out extreme metal savagery to the most elegant and delicate of piano interludes, remorselessly progressive, stoically rooted in the slow-motion rush of doom metal and yet curiously accessible and blessed with countless moments of fragile grace.
From the title track's majestic towers of orchestral sorrow to the spellbinding but eviscerating melodrama of "No Color, No Light" (a devastating duet between Cammie and Evergrey's Tom S. Englund), The Banished Heart salutes the ageless spirit of the album as a singular work of art: an immersive musical journey that demands commitment but that promises untold rewards.