Big, bad, and ugly, Chicago's OCEANO burst onto the deathcore the scene with 2009's "Depths" with a mission to be one of the heaviest bands on the planet. Whether they achieved such an audacious goal is arguable, but they did establish themselves as one of the better acts in this now crowded sub-genre; and yes, the sheer weight of the damn thing made a sizeable crater in the earth. A member exodus subsequent to the release of that album did nothing to stop the train and the group has reemerged with several fresh faces and a sound that is every bit as heavy on "Contagion".
The 'core is still intact, but "Contagion" is just as much a modern (read: down-tuned to the depths) death metal band that crushes with a degree of completion matched by few of their deathcore brethren. A concept album about "a highly contagious epidemic purposefully spread upon the population by corrupt positions of power," everything from the artwork to the overwhelming riff heft, seriously creepy tones, a massive bottom end, and the bellicose roar of vocalist of Adam Warren roll up on the listener with gang mentality and pure malice. The highlights here are "Quarantine", "The Contaminated", "Persuasive Oppression", and "Remnants Aflame", all of which benefit from syncopated bursts of violence and eerie guitar bits that work well in coloring the tracks. A moody instrumental, albeit one with some spoken parts, called "Exist in Confinement" is also a standout.
The one knock you'll probably hear about the album is that it lacks some measure of track distinction, largely because of an oft-used formula that features alternating super-aggressive speed blasts and bottom-feeding muck crawls, as well as an approach that emphasizes brutality over conventional song craft. WHITECHAPEL is one of the few bands of this ilk that has been able to maintain the heaviness without sacrifice of memorable songwriting. "Contagion" is however a grower that reveals some measure of depth with multiple spins. As such, one shouldn't pan OCEANO for doing what it does best; knocking dicks in the dirt.