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The Ocean at Hard Luck Bar – Toronto Live Review

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The Ocean at Hard Luck Bar – Toronto Live Review

the Ocean Cover

Who: The Ocean (aka The Ocean Collective)
From: Berlin, Germany
Where: Hard Luck Bar, Toronto ON
When: Wednesday, April 2 2014


There’s no better feeling in the world than getting invited to see a band you know nothing about and being completely blown away.

This was the case tonight with Germany’s Metal Blade Records best kept secret “The Ocean”.

The Ocean (aka The Ocean Collective) is classified as a “post metal” band that have been keeping it real since 2001.  For me there is no specific genre to define the band.  While there are elements of sludge, art rock and experimental, the easiest definition I can think of is this:

If 1974’s King Crimson had a baby with Sweden’s Refused and the uncle that raised them was a religious critic who played drums in Opeth with Aunt Isis you’d begin to swim in The Ocean.  It’s progressive with soul, it’s heavy with tone, it’s original but digestible and it’s got the balls to scare the scales off of Godzilla.

I was at The Hard Luck earlier in the day to check out the sound system and see and old friend when someone said that The Ocean was playing.

“The Ocean???” I said.  “Those guys showed up on my radar awhile ago…”  knowing nothing about the band, (except a few YouTube videos) I had to save face, but the truth was they had showed up on my radar (well the name anyways) through my extensive search of local shows in Toronto about two weeks ago.   I had no intention of attending the show, had not submitted credentials, but it was added to my calendar as a maybe show.

My friend, local sound man Ryan Cox offered to throw me on the guest list.  “Why not!” I thought.   After further inspection of the room I met up with my friend Yegor who plays in the local sludge metal outfit Kosmograd.    After a short conversation I called up our Metal Editor Raya Morrison and asked her if she’d like to join me.

“Yegor is playing tonight!  And The Ocean kicks ass!  Let’s do it!” she said. To my surprise she already had this show on her radar, well, let’s just say Raya knows her metal.

Now, I had a reason to go but I wasn’t expecting much except a band named after an earthly element in an empty room.  Little did I know that these road warriors had just come off a 26 date straight tour and will be playing Wacken Open Air in Germany this summer and with that being said…these guys are a live band!  Their albums don’t come close to how intense they are live, and that is a very good and rare thing.

Upon entering the room I was pleasantly surprised to see a very enthusiastic crowd anxiously awaiting The Ocean.  To my dismay openers The Paralax and Kosmograd had already played, however tour support Atlas Moth was up on the stage.  I asked Ryan, “Is this the headliner? Shit they’re good!” However to my surprise, the best was yet to come.

The Ocean, brought in their own lighting show and a sound guy who really knew what he was doing. When the band hit the stage is was difficult to look away.

The small enthusiastic crowd of about 100 rushed towards stage and started to sing along to every word.

“I drove all the way from Kingston with my bother and this is the best show I’ve seen in a long time”  said one fan.

Singer Loic Rossetti never held back for a second.   Constantly jumping up on monitors or whatever he could stand on.   Not a moment went by where he wasn’t engaging the crowd.

At one point he decided to stage dive and a few little mosh pits and crowd surfers broke out.   I would love to see these guys in a large room with 1000+ people.   In fact, they are used to playing to bigger crowds in Europe but you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference at this show.

A giant screen on the back of the stage reflected images that I’m sure meant something in the context of certain songs that I yearn to hear twice before making assumptions.

Robin Staps and Damian Murdoch did double duty on guitars while Louis Jucker helped fill in every note that was missing on the low end by the stripped down line up. In fact the band has been known to add Cello, Viola, Contrabass, Saxophone, Vibraphone, Piano and just about every instrument a mini orchestra would need.

If there was ever a missing beat, drummer Paul Seidel who recently replaced long time member Luc Hess, filled it in beautifully.

There were moments where backing tracks cut in towards the end and I heard saxophone lines reminiscent of King Crimson’s ‘Starlight’ from the RED album.

That in of itself was enough to give these guys some serious cred in my books.   Add top notch stage antics, killer tunes and a bunch of down to earth guys and let’s just say that The Ocean is an awesome band!

Overall, The Ocean was a pleasant surprise to a Wednesday night that will be difficult for any band to top this year.

Words and Images: Darrell Shelley
In The Dark Photography
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