Ryan Murray | Co-Owner | Chief Editor | Contributor
The quickly-rising progressive metal/southern goth-rock band from Houston, Oceans of Slumber, took the east coast by storm with their “The Lighthouse East Tour”, spanning 14 different cities, some of which were not on the east coast. The tour kicked off in Houston, TX on 8/27 before making it’s way east with Atlanta, GA on 8/29 and its last stop on the east coast being in Pittsburgh on 9/6. After that, Oceans headed to the mid west for Detroit, Chicago and Kansas City before finally ending the tour back home in Texas in Austin on 9/11.
This tour solidified something that many have known already – Oceans of Slumber is a force to be reckoned with.
📸 – Ryan Murray
Having known Oceans of Slumber’s music since 2020, their new album shocked me, but not in a bad way. It wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Known for their heavy and beefy guitar riffs, heart pounding drums/blast beats and powerful vocals, their latest effort “Starlight & Ash” is a much more laid back, soulful, dark and, simply put, absolutely beautiful labor of love, heart and soul. This album sees the entire band at their strongest, their most vulnerable and, for me personally, their best sound to date.
On Friday September 2nd at Dingbatz, supporting Oceans of Slumber were New Jersey’s own “FireHaze”, a straight up brutal heavy metal band with great grooves and a lot of energy and Philadelphia’s own “Empress”, a symphonic/power metal band whose stage presence is strong, with a solid and very mature sound.
Opening the show was “Empress”, and this is a MUST see band! Kicking off their set with two tracks off of their latest release “Fateweaver”, the band takes the stage with a great energy and charisma right from the start! The band starts with “Black Arcana” and “Beyond the Sleep”, which immediately has old Nightwish vibes from the “Oceanborn” era. With the way the guitars rip in with beefy, yet melodic riffs, absolute symphonic bliss and such a mature sound, as well as absolutely powerful and angelic vocals of Barbara Blackthorne, it’s clear the path this band is on is going to lead them straight to the stratosphere! Blackthorne even surprises with some well placed and well executed harsh vocals as well, which only add to the amazing layering that already exists. This band’s material is incredibly well layered, incredibly well written, and so well executed.
Playing their album “Fateweaver” in its entirety, with the exception of “Immortelle”, one thing is clear – Empress has done live what not all symphonic metal bands do – not only have they written some seriously great music that is arranged incredibly well, they have incredible talent and an undeniable chemistry both in the studio and live. What they have done with “Fateweaver” seems to be leading them to be probably one of the strongest symphonic metal bands out there, with the album easily competing as symphonic metal’s album of the year. Having the opportunity to open for artists like Janet Gardner, Seven Spires, Grim Reaper, A Sound of Thunder, and Master Sword, this band was on the right path just before Covid shut everything down. Be sure to check out “Fateweaver” in it’s entirety and if you get a chance to see them live, do not pass it up!
Empress is Barbara Blackthorne on Vocals, Joseph Muir and Vlad Khavin on guitars, Nick Bonsanto on bass and Mark Stainthorpe on drums.
Taking the stage next was New Jersey’s own FireHaze! Coming from West New York, NJ, this 3-piece metal band may look small, but if you haven’t heard, stop judging a book by its cover! Having had the opportunity back in 2014 to open for Moonspell, along with Atrocity and Leaves’ Eyes, this band took the stage with confidence and an unmistakable energy! Setting the tone right in the beginning with their intro track literally entitled “Intro”, following immediately into a track called “Kill or Be Killed”, this melodic death metal band is fierce and brutal, with great riffs, great melodies and harsh vocals throughout.
For only having 3 members on stage, this band’s sound really filled the room! Their music was incredibly well layered, very well balanced and they kept the crowd engaged without any effort. The bass player/vocalist known as “Black Troops”, as well as the guitarist, David Aníbal, who had back-up vocals have honed their crafts extremely well. With harsh vocals that sound well controlled and very seasoned, these guys absolutely nailed the vocals throughout the entire set. Their drummer, Larry Gonzalez killed it throughout the set as well.
Keep your eye on this band!
All photos are taken by and are property of Ryan Murray. Photos may be used, but proper credit must be given. 📸
The time has come! As Oceans of Slumber took the stage, there was a feeling of amazing energy. As Dobber, Jessie, Alex, Semir & Mat begin creating an evolving atmosphere, the energy begins building even more. While most of the stage lights were off, there were some decorative, ambient/warm yellow lights strung across center stage, draped across Dobber’s two bass drums, and across the rest of the stage. The atmosphere continues building more and more until Cammie comes out, which of course sets the room ablaze with cheering. This atmosphere beautifully builds into their opening song “The Waters Rising”, which is one of the singles off of “Starlight & Ash”. Cammie is an incredible singer on the albums, but I’d never heard her sing live until this show. Cammie’s voice live is incredibly powerful, not just in volume, but in heart and soul as well. Cammie’s ability to bring you on a deep, vulnerable journey with her lyrics within the songs is nothing short of amazing. She has such incredible control and is in full command of her voice. From the soft moments of the verses on “The Waters Rising” to the more belting vocals used within the chorus, Cammie’s emotion and heart are palpable and can be felt throughout the entire place.
Having mostly played songs from the new album, we did also hear “Pray For Fire” from their 2020 self-titled release as well as “The Banished Heart” from “The Banished Heart”. These songs sounded simply incredible live as well, filled with emotion. Cammie is probably one of the most underrated singers of all time.
Musically, Oceans of Slumber is probably one of the best bands I’ve heard live ever. Dobber’s drums, whether laid back or heart pounding blast beats, fall right in the pocket without missing a beat. Dobber, Mat, Jessie, Alex and Semir are completely locked in with each other, not missing a beat either. The energy this group creates on stage, even during the lighter moments is incredible. Between Cammie’s vocals and the layering between all of the instruments, especially Mat’s keys, everything is pulled together beautifully and creates one of the most honest, raw and emotional musical experiences I’ve ever experienced.
Oceans of Slumber has so much to offer the music industry, both studio recordings and live performances! I honestly can’t wait until the next time they tour!