Record Reviews

Album review: Oceans of Slumber “Starlight and Ash”

The excellent Texan band delivers exquisite new Southern gothic music like it’s nobody’s business.

I discovered Oceans of Slumber in 2015 when they released their phenomenal cover of Candlemass’ “Solitude”. It’s a doom classic best left alone, don’t fuck with perfection. But Oceans tackled it head-on and managed to do the song justice while also putting their own stamp on it. As was the case with that cover, the band continues to combine excellent musicianship with Cammie Beverly’s powerful voice. It is something about her voice that commands attention. Oceans of Slumber has been a genre-bending band since the beginning. It is hard to put a label on their ever-evolving music. Their record label now refers to them as a “Texas-based new Southern gothic outfit”. Fair enough. Or Americana doom. Or perhaps melancholic dust rock. This feels like Houston’s answer to Opeth meets Stina Nordenstam. I don’t know. It’s beautiful and haunting. What’s important though, is that this band and its new album are terrific. The band debuted in 2013 with “Aetherial” and “Starlight and Ash” is the band’s fifth full-length studio album. The band’s line-up is Cammie Beverly on vocals, Xan Fernandez and Jessie Santos on guitars, Mathew Aleman on keyboards, Semir Özerkan on bass and Dobber Beverly and drums and piano. The band’s songwriting is exquisite. Tracks such as “Shipbuilder’s Son”, “The Water’s Rising”, “Salvation”, “Red Forest Roads” and “Hearts of Stone” are epic and stunning. The instrumental piano piece “The Spring of ‘21” is sublime. It is the kind of music you can play loudly in a pitch-black room with nothing but you and the music. The music is quite cinematic. But you don’t need any pictures, because the music is that good. You and the music. That’s it. This is the soundtrack to your life, not to a movie. Oceans also stick with tradition and deliver another excellent cover song. This time it is The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” that gets Oceanised. It is, of course, another “leave it the fuck alone” classic. But, of course, Oceans of Slumber not only have a go at it, they also deliver. It is a scaled-down version with acoustic guitars, a violin and a piano and, of course, Cammie’s towering voice.

Oceans of Slumber’s new album “Starlight and Ash” will be released on 22nd July via Century Media Records.