The Ocean – Anthropocentric Album Review
All Believers need not even think about entering the fray that is The Ocean’s Anthropocentric. (Unless you happen to be one of the rare religious people who keeps an open mind and are willing to challenge your faith. If so, by all means, do yourself a favor and dig in.)
Anthropocentric is the follow-up album to Heliocentric (see my review here). From the beginning, Heliocentric was planned as the “lighter” and proggier of the twin set while Anthropocentric would be the take-no-prisoners crusher.
And does it ever crush. This album, and its predecessor, are the too-rare examples of heavy metal albums that truly bring down the hammer in both a musical and lyrical sense. If you know The Ocean, you know the level of heaviness that you’re getting here. But it is the lyrical content that seals the deal and makes this one of the heaviest metal albums to be released in some time.
Get ready to rock; get ready to think.
Whereas Heliocentric dealt with the ideas concerning the position of Earth within the solar system and the philosophical ramifications that came about as a result of those debates, Anthropocentric jumps forward to taking on Fundamentalist Christianity and Creationism. And when I say “taking on,” I mean a full knock-down, drag-out, blood-shedding evisceration of the most intellectual nature. The nine-and-a-half minute title track that opens the album is a masterpiece of lyrical criticism:
“And even in these days and age some people still believe / That earth is at the center of God’s own universe / And that man was made the 7th day, evolution is a myth / And that even bones of ancient creatures are no evidence of the fact that we are not the end of the chain / And they won’t leave their ship / That is sinking / And while they spoke of grace and love, forgiveness from above / They nailed thousands of non-believers to their crude symbol of love / The myth that man is the crown of God’s creation / Breeds the excuse to deplete the earth today / The myth that man is the crown of God’s creation / Supports our present anthropocentric misconception.”
And that is literally just the beginning. From there, the record takes off on an exploration of man’s place in the universe and Nietzschean philosophy, but it is centered around a three song suite called “The Grand Inquisitor,” which is based on the Dostoyevsky novel The Brothers Karamazov. But don’t worry if you haven’t slogged through that massive tome to become familiar with Ivan and Alyoscha (I read it once in high school, but that read-through was in no way sufficient), you’ll still understand what is going on. Now, I’ve read some critics who are complaining that this album is too difficult to parse – that it requires too much work to enjoy. To those critics I say, go fuck yourself. This isn’t meant to be easy. Yes, you are going to need the lyric sheet in front of you to read along while you’re listening and in doing so, you’ll be prompted to think about your own views on some big issues, but that is a testament to what The Ocean has accomplished here and not something to disparage them for.
Musically, this album has done away with most of the experimental, lighter passages that could be found on Heliocentric. There’s still some of that, but for the most part, it’s chock-full of pummeling guitars and Loic Rossetti’s harsh barks. The fury of the music is an apt partner for the fury in the words. And that’s the beautiful thing about this record – it’s a seamless combination of words and music. It’ll make you rage and it’ll make you think. Thank God