If Radiohead had listened to bands like Isis, Neurosis, and Mastodon after releasing OK Computer instead of the free-jazz and experimental electronica they delved into, they would probably have released an album that sounded much like Oceansize’s Effloresce. This debut album, released in 2003, contains a fascinating balance of progressive, Radiohead-inspired melodies and punishing sludge metal riffing. Their sound evolved over time as they released three more excellent full-length records over the next 7 years until their unfortunate (for us) decision to part ways as a band in 2010. On no track of theirs is their amalgamation of influences more apparent than the subject of this SOTW, “Massive Bereavement.”
Arguably the centerpiece of the album, this song bounces between a massive variety of timbres, riffs, time signatures, and vocal styles. At around 4 minutes in, after some vaguely sinister melodic introduction, we begin to hear dissonance and a dark, atmospheric bassline. The cacophony of guitar noise builds into an impossibly thick tension, and at 5:25, we are treated to an intense musical release. This main riff contains an instantly recognizeable 7/8 groove and then sneakily transitions into a more standard 4/4 feel – it’s seamless and masterfully done. At around 6:40 into the song occurs one of Oceansize’s most interesting, memorable riffs – created with what sounds like some sort of Digitech whammy pedal. As the main riff drops and punishes the listener again and again, the ending of the song is almost a relief, as the tune is such an intense listening experience. Nonetheless, this is surely one of the band’s most distinctive compositions, and essential for any fans of atmospheric metal, or any good music, for that matter.