August 14, 2008 | | 3.5

Century, Black Ocean

Century’s debut from Prosthetic Records, Black Ocean, has had me confused for a while now. At times, the Pennsylvania group comes across with caustic textures and droning guitar tones. At other times, Century fit snuggly into a standard metalcore mold, only daring to leap out at brief intervals. Overall, however, Black Ocean is an intriguing release, pitting harsh, discordant elements against more fluid, emotive, and often sweeping influences.

Guitarists Jason Baker and George Fava trade driving riff for driving riff through most of the album. The duo expand upon their core tonal style with catchy hooks, aggressive mosh and dramatic outbursts. The rhythm section carries the load with bruising blasts and a steady feed of pummeling intensity. Vocalist Carson Slovak screams along with the belligerent musical base with emotion and force. His style fits the feel of the album well.

“Pantheon” starts the album out with heavy drums and chugging riffs before the band descends into a bit of chaos as the vocals come in. There’s a mix of influences throughout this track, ranging from early Dillinger Escape Plan to standard metalcore. The combination of these elements makes for a corrosive sound heavy with textures and harsh tones. There’s a decent breakdown just before the three minute mark to end the album opener.

Black Ocean
Massive drums and discordant guitar noise get this next one going as the band shifts into chaos mode with off kilter timing and structures. There’s an incredible bit of guitar that comes in around the 40 second mark that sounds vaguely familiar. After that initial bit of guitar work, Century get more aggressive and in your face with layered guitar tones and in your face rhythms. This is a manic track with plenty of emotion and, for lack of a better work, flamboyant highlights. That memorable guitar work comes in again to end the track with layered vocals that have a distant sound.

A big scream and riffing get “Erasure” off to a quick start with driving drums. The vocals sound a bit distant at the beginning to this one as spastic drums pummel relentlessly. There’s a more hardcore feel to this one with Converge-like influences to it. Through the harsh haze and textures is some nice, melodic guitar highlights that are subtle, but have just enough behind them to really add some depth to this song. There are some pretty crushing riffs around 2:45 that then shift into a staggered, modified breakdown for the full effect.

Drug Mule
“Drug Mule” has a much more hardcore stance to it, with chugging guitars and layered vocals. I love the aggressive nature to this song. It’s got great moshing parts and crushing rhythms. This very well could be my favorite track on the album. It’s straight forward, aggressive in your face sound makes for a perfect change up from the more droning, textured tones on the album’s previous tracks.

Beefy drum work and catchy guitars get this one moving as layered vocals come in around the 20 second mark. This one has a decent flow to it, but still has a discordant edge to it that gives it a rusty feel. There’s a great section around the three minute mark where the music gets a bit softer with light drums and fading guitars. It doesn’t last long as the band ends in a flurry of thunder and riffs.

Rising Sun
“Rising Sun” has a fairly benign starts before some off kilter drumming and vocals come in shortly after the start. There are some beefy rhythms and a decent breakdown around 1:30 that really accentuates the tortured vocals. I’m digging the guitars that come in shortly after the two minute mark. They add nice depth and a melodic touch to the caustic track. The song ends with a bit of reverb before the next track picks the pace back up.

I love the start to this one. After a brief melodic and emotive start, the group quickly shifts into full on bludgeoning gallop with driving drums and riffs. After some spoke vocals, there is a massive series of bruising riffs and layered vocals that hit harder than a blind side left cross in the mosh pit.

Daylight Algorithm
“Daylight Algorithm” begins quietly with several seconds (20 to be exact) of quiet before real light drums and guitar strumming come in. This subdues Century plays softly with building drums till the 1:40 mark when metalcore riffing and layered vocals come in. The layered vocals on this one really give it some much needed oomph.

This next one is 42 seconds filled with a slew of noise — distant drums, reverb and more. It serves as more of an intro to the final track as it transitions into it smoothly.

Terror Starts At Home
A good deal of discordant textures cover this one as the group progresses through driving riffs and heavy drumming. There are some interesting Converge-esque elements throughout this one that give it a memorable feel. It ends with more reverb.

~ ~ ~

I had read several reviews of this one prior to receiving a copy of it and after reviewing them wasn’t all that stoked on listening to this disc. Luckily, I ignored those few reviews and have thoroughly enjoyed the caustic feel to Black Ocean. The music on this album is dense, layered and powerful, mixing in elements of hardcore and metalcore into a sleek, yet aggressive package.

Favorite Tracks:
All of them

Additional Notes: