Melodic death/black/Gothic metal from Belgium, third full-length album released in 2002.
Oceans Of Sadness hails from Belgium, as has been around for quite some time now. They made their first demos halfway the 90’s, which received very positive critique, and they even succeeded in winning the Metal Bash 1998 (some sort of battle of the bands, organized by the Dutch magazine Aardschok). This victory resulted in gigs on prestigious festivals like Dynamo Open Air, Graspop and the Biebob Metalfest. On that last gig I’ve seen them myself, and I must say that it is a great live-band.
"Laughing Tears, Crying Smile" is the band’s second release. The debut album "For We Are" was a bit disappointing, especially with the live gigs in mind, but this new album really beats the living daylights out of its predecessor. The songs sound more powerful, complete and well-balanced then ever before. Singer Tijs Vanneste literally gives all he got: in a track like "Shizophrenia" he sounds deliciously aggressive, and his clean voice, drowned in emotion, even reminds me of the former Anathema vocalist Darren White. Musicwise the band has again grown a lot, and the keys and guitars sound quite harmonic all together. The production leaves nothing to be desired either, except maybe the way the drums are mixed, it is not as balanced as the rest. In fact, the way the drums are played is not perfect, for it sounds a bit too basic, but it is not something that really matters.
Time and time again I can indulge myself in great and rousing tracks like "Shadows", "We Are Alone" (in which Tijs is assisted by one Silvia Kratochvilova, a complete stranger to me) and the Anathema-like ‘Cold’. It is not only slow what the band has to offer, for its pedal to the metal are the opening track "Sinner's Dream", "From The Seed To The Flower" (cool twin-guitar parts!!) and "So Close". The best elements all come together in the closing track of the album. ‘Try To See’ lasts for almost 14 minutes, in which the band really goes all the way. No doubt about it, this new album only brings the band closer to their well-deserved breakthrough.
After Ralf's review of OCEANS OF SADNESS' debut "For We Are" I had not been too keen on their second album "Laughing Tears * Crying Smile", but that was a mistake, for this album is a more than positive surprise for me!
It by far is not "Standard Gothic Metal", like colleague Henn had written back then, but great melodic Death Metal with Gothic-elements and varied vocals by Tijs Vanneste, rough and clear, deep and high Death Metal-vox, often everything together in one song, very well used keyboards/piano, packed into an interesting cover and you have a strong album.
Sure, "Laughing Tears * Crying Smile" hasn't turned out to be a groundbreaking album, but the combination of fast (and always melodic) Death Metal-parts and reduced heaviness with piano has something that not many bands do with such consequence and class, especially as they utilise the different elements (including the variable vocals) cleverly to create great dynamics within the compositions and keeping the listener's interest high at all times.
Three tracks I would like to point out in particular, "One Entire Shield Of Pain", starting out with Gothic Metal, but then turning into a great and very variable Melodic Death-track (without sounding like Gothenburg, though!), "Accepting Our Weakness", more Death than Gothic, but with a really cool riff, but also calmer passages to make everything fit even better, and "Schizophrenia", where apart from female vocals we also get an accordion, which, similar to the brilliant MOONLYGHT-album, brings in its very own touch.
As said before, a very positive surprise with relatively simple, but very effective riffs, which brings some fresh air into the Melodic Death and has full endorsement by me!
As requested by a fellow member from the United Kingdom!