While attending the Soen concert in Tampa this past weekend, I had the pleasure of being introduced to Texas based prog-metal band Oceans of Slumber. Due to the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I did not get my usual opportunity to delve into the opening acts for the show, so I went into Slumber’s performance completely blind.
When going to a progressive metal show, you don’t expect to see a trio consisting of a vocalist, keyboardist and bassist come on stage to perform. What the audience in Tampa got was an extra special performance of an incredibly talented selection of people. Drummer Dobber Beverly introduced the set as a departure from their latest album (which he admitted was also a departure from their larger catalog), and that it was going to be an intimate set. And what an intimate set it was.
Forsaking the drum set for the night, Dobber manned the keyboard playing beautiful piano sections (including his love for ninth chords) that comprised most of the melody portion of the evening. Their bassist provided a mixture of swelling ambient bass, giving the set a bit of a post-rock vibe, as well as using the bass as a percussion interest. Vocalist Cammie Gilbert Beverly sang her heart out their emotionally charged songs. Her vocal delivery was absolutely impressive to me, and was one of the best vocal performances I’ve heard in years from any prog or metal singer.
Of course, the difficulty with reviewing an act you know nothing about is being exposed to the material in a live setting for the first time, and of course trying to remember/record what was performed. While I didn’t catch the names of every song played, I was incredibly blown away with their performance, especially the song, “The Hanging Tree”.
So strong was the performance that I immediately purchased their latest album after their set, which I have been thoroughly enjoying. With that having been said, as enjoyable as that album (“Starlight and Ash”) has been, this live performance setup is even better than the recording, and actually makes me yearn for either a soundboard recording, or a studio recording done in this manner. I don’t know if Southern Gothic Prog is a thing or not, but if loving what Oceans of Slumber performed that night is wrong, I don’t want to be right. This was a special performance, and I would highly encourage any prog-rock fan to catch them at an upcoming show.