By Dr. Abner Mality

Deathcore is a subgenre loathed by many and not without good reason, as the onslaught of cookie cutter scene bands who bow before the almighty breakdown and the altar of sweeping arpeggios has obscured any possible merit to be found in it. That's a kind of curse that Oceano must learn to live with, as they unashamedly come from the deathcore tradition. But on their second Earache effort "Contagion", they have bravely strived to improve and separate themselves from the pack without losing the brutality that's part of their heart and soul.

There's a good deal of thought that's gone into this record and it's obvious the band is sincerely trying to move forward instead of treading water. The music is still relentless in its heaviness...even to the point of sheer exhaustion...but it's not just insane smashing around and piling a million riffs and fills into the songs. The pace is mostly medium tempo but within that tempo, the riffs sound like a piledriver crushing your skull. Breakdowns are still present, but in most cases, more thought out and distinct than the incredibly old-hat "bump-bump-da-bump" so many core bands use. Adam Warren the vocalist continues his abysmic growls and grunts, which mostly seem like another instrument as opposed to any coherent "singing". Still, he avoids the ultimate excesses of the goregrind crowd.

Melody does surprisingly rear its shiny head now and then, and not just as an attempt to show they can do it, either. "Exist In Confinement" has an almost prog metal feel to it and Oceano manages to nail that style pretty well. Elsewhere, it's a harrowing bludgeoning, with "Quarantine", "Weaponized" and the flattening opening track "Precursor To Enslavement" offering up titan riffs mixed with a kind of Suffocation feel. Although purists revile the deathcore tag, if you enjoy stuff like Suffocation and Decapitated, I don't see why Oceano would be off limits.

Add to everything a kind of paranoid linking concept about shadowy genetic experiments and you actually have a strong album with some flair to it. One that escapes many of the deathcore traps. This is a band that will continue to grow.