June 24, 2009

CD Review: Century - Black Ocean

Century's Prosthetic Records debut, Black Ocean, has been in my possession for some time now. It is a release that I have been wanting to write about but for one reason or another have not. Some causes are not my fault, sometimes I just get really busy and have more pressing issues to deal with, while other times I just don't have the inspiration to write. I have turned to this record on a number of occasions, I cue it up, press play, open up my word processing software, give it a simple title, go to begin writing and my brain shuts down. I don't get it. It is not that I don't like the album, I just could not find the words. So, I figured I would give it one last go around, if this doesn't work, I doubt it ever will. I am hoping this non-traditional open will help get those words flowing.

Formed in 2004, the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, based band did not take long to garner attention. They released a self-titled EP in 2005, followed by their full-length debut, the independently released Faith and Failure, in 2006. This brought Prosthetic to their door. The band signed on the dotted line, delivered Black Ocean, and the rest is history. The future isn't looking all that bad either.

This is an album that simultaneously stands out and fades into the masses of other metal bands. They walk a tricky line that blends elements of metalcore and melodic death together into a sound that is their own. Upon first listen, it would be easy for the average metal fan to dismiss them as just another faceless metal group that fails to distinguish itself from the pack. However, this would be doing both Century and the you (the collective variety) a serious disservice. No, I am not trying to label these guys as the next great thing, or making any attempt to raise them higher than they deserve. I am merely saying that they have a lot more to offer and have a greater original voice than may be found in just one listen.

Century's skills are shown off with great production value that gives a brutally effective balance between vocals, strings, and drums. Everything adds up to a powerful sound that is continually surging forward, not unlike a wave. There are many bands whose production could be likened to being beaten by a group of people carrying very large sticks, effective, gets the job done, but in some cases lacks a certain elegance. In the case of Century, it is more like a wave, perhaps even a tidal wave at times. Everything combines in this wall that picks you up throws you back, picks you up again and the process repeats for the duration of its concise 33-minute run time. It may sound odd, but this has a metallic elegance to it.

Black Ocean opens with the monolithic "Pantheon." It begins innocently enough with a heave wall of guitars and driving drums before truly taking off on a rather brutal path. It is followed by the title track, a tune that continues the heavy but introduces some more melodic elements that help to define the Century sound. It is here that I really began to notice what Century has to offer.

The blend of brutal and melodic sounds in a tidal wave of metal continues through other standout tracks like "Drug Mule," "Equus," and "Monolith."

Bottomline. This is a band you may want to keep an eye on. Their sound is interesting and shows a group who know how to construct a song. Century has a way of growing on you, getting under you skin and sweeping you along in just the direction they want you to. Black Ocean is a winner.



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