OCEANS OF SLUMBER - "There Were A Lot Of Moments Where We Were Choking Back Tears And All That Normal Crap"

March 4, 2016, 2 years ago

Greg Pratt

feature heavy metal oceans of slumber

OCEANS OF SLUMBER - "There Were A Lot Of Moments Where We Were Choking Back Tears And All That Normal Crap"

Houston extreme prog-metal band Oceans Of Slumber just dropped their second album, Winter, through Century Media. It's an album of change for the band: it's their first full-length for the big metal label, and it's also their first with vocalist Cammie Gilbert, who made her recorded debut with the band on last year's Blue covers EP.

“I wanted the band to be female-fronted from the get-go,” admits drummer Dobber Beverly. “I thought it would be a good accompaniment; I thought it would be a good contradiction, basically (laughs). Ronnie [Gates] had problems from the get-go; he had kids, the job stuff was always changing for him. He was wrestling with his own personal demons of substance abuse and everything else, so he wasn't going to ever be a permanent fixture; we couldn't leave the country with him, so it was always kind of set up with the thought of him having to be replaced.”

The band put out their first album, Aetherial, in 2013. Beverly says that right after they recorded it, Gilbert entered the picture. She had already been doing some production work with Gates, says Beverly, so the next step was obvious.

“She fit so well that everybody at that point, even Ronnie, said, I wonder how this band would sound with her fronting it,” says Beverly. “So I texted her and said, 'Ronnie has just exited the band and I was wondering if you'd want to join the band.' She said, 'Absolutely.'”

The end result of the new lineup is Winter, a huge, sprawling album that is progressive in nature and structure but also very extreme, Beverly using his grind chops (the man was in grinders Insect Warfare) to take the songs through many different moods and hues. Not to mention emotions. Lots of emotions.

“The way we do it is it's very heartfelt, very taxing, there's a lot of stuff going on but emotionally it's taxing,” says Beverly. “It's a very real record; everything about it is extremely real. The vibe of it, the sentimental nature of the songs, it's all personal stuff. Some of the bigger labels were like, 'We really love this record but we don't know how to market it.' The seriousness of it scared them off. It was funny: I never thought we'd get to the point where we have options then you guys are afraid to release our music because you can't market it to teenagers.”

Although all the players in the band are fantastic, Beverly puts on a particularly outstanding drum performance on Winter; he's quick to give credit not to himself but to the band's influences.

“In most music that's in the forefront today, the bands on these bigger labels and shit, it seems throttled back. Everything's so straightforward, everything's so mechanical, and we have the absolute opposite idea on everything. I have the Frank Zappa mindset where there's a freedom of expression. We come from '70s and '80s music; it's what we grew up on, it's like orchestrating and accenting everything. It's an emotional connection to music, and I try to do my part.”

Indeed he's done his part on the album, as have the other band members, with Winter being a listening experience that would be exhausting if it wasn't also so uplifting, with Gilbert's soaring vocals, Beverly's relentless drumming, and the rest of the band's never-ending experimentation.

“I want that kind of responsibility,” admits Beverly about creating music with such emotional heft. “It sucks to get to the end of a record and be like, 'Fuck you guys, making me feel this and go through this crap' (laughs), and when we were recording the record it was the same way; there were a lot of moments where we were choking back tears and all that normal crap. To go through a process like that is not easy on us either, but it's cathartic, it's something we needed.”

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