Pantheon of the Lesser
Click to hear: “The Beacon” (clip)
Ocean is aptly named.
Like the body of water to our collective right, the Portland doom metal band is an awesome thing to behold. And after five or ten minutes beholding this enormous, lethargic thing, most people get bored and wander off, start throwing a Frisbee or something.
Because this is some heavy shit. Pantheon of the Lesser, Ocean’s second full-length, has two tracks. The first, “The Beacon,” exceeds 35 minutes; the second “Of the Lesser,” just over 23. These songs will overthrow your iPod. I turned the iTunes “visualizer” on while playing Pantheon and it created a black hole that ate my hard drive. Heavy.
Ocean makes slabs of experimental metal that sell by the thousands worldwide. Among members of the global doom community, they’re considered one of top practitioners of this dark art. With patience (and some good drugs), you’ll understand why.
This is New-Age-meets-Dark-Age music, meditative and menacing, minimal yet huge. “The Beacon” begins, brutally, with a 16-minute sonic death-march of thunderous minor chords, feedback, and incomprehensible Cookie Monster–on–Quaaludes vocals delivered by singer/guitarist Candy. Frankly, this section could be shorter.
The tempo picks up half a notch around the 20 minute mark and gradually builds into a squall of noisy, crashing riffs. Five minutes later, these subside into a calm, almost pretty, section featuring guest vocals (chanted syllables and screams, really) by Yoshiko Ohara. When this track finally fades out, you get the impression it’s still not over — in fact, Ocean played a longer version of this song as its entire set on a recent national tour; it lasted over an hour.
“Of the Lesser” is less plodding than “The Beacon,” reaching its anti-anthemic height well before the 15-minute mark. Still, by the time it drags to a finish, you’ll be exhausted, too.
— Chris Busby
For more on Ocean, visit importantrecords.com.