By Dr. Abner Mality

An ocean is so vast, it can be many different things. A furious, roiling sea with giant waves or a quiet placid pool concealing hidden depths. These vast changes in temperment seem to apply to the musical collective known as The Ocean, as well. They can rattle the Earth with thunderous heaviness and anger or glide along smoothly and quietly. "Heliocentric" finds The Ocean in a contemplative, more relaxed mode.

The long, crushing post-core epics of previous works like "Precambrian" have been pretty much put to pasture here...the longest track on "Heliocentric" comes in at less than eight minutes. Although the heavy side of The Ocean has not been abandoned, the songs here owe more to melodic prog and indie rock than ever before. The piano gets just as much time as the guitar and the vocals of new singer Loic Rosetti are a relaxing croon that only occasionally give way to towering roars. Ballads like "Ptolemy Was Wrong" and the exceptionally fragile "Epiphany" aren't the least bit metal. But who says The Ocean has to be a metal band? "Firmament", "The First Commandment of the Luminaries" and "Swallowed By the Earth" are marked by thick, warm riffs that are heavy but not too angry. There's a noticeable pick-up in intensity with "The Origin of Species" and "The Origin of God", but those tracks also feature saxophone and keys. Is "Heliocentric" more commercial? Let's just say, it's way more accessible than before.

Lyrically, this is real heady stuff. The album deals with the rise of the "heliocentric" view of the universe...that the Earth revolves around the Sun and not the other way around...and the effect that discovery had on thought and religion. That sort of philosophical approach is about as UN-commercial as you can get but it's part and parcel of what makes this band tick. A real nice change from smashing somebody's teeth down their throat, worshipping the goat or battling orcs.

I'm not really a fan of The Ocean's style of music, but there is a sincerity here that rings through. These waters run deep...see if you can dive right in!