After quite some years the Dutch band Profuna Ocean finally released their second studio album named In Vacuum, which is also their first full-length album. The album is just over one hour long, containing eight tracks. Let's start with a compliment for the album sleeve. I really love the artwork of the album, very simple but somehow impressive. The music itself is heavy progressive rock music. You can hear the influences (Porcupine Tree, Anathema) of the band, but you can't compare the music to other artists and bands, and that is a very good sign! This is a band with their own style. The music itself is very nicely done and dthe band plays tight as well. Sadly, I'm not really convinced by the vocals. They are far from bad of course, actually quite good, but a bit too tame and clean for this kind of music in my opinion. When I first listened to the album I thought “well, this music is quite 'ok' and not super spectacular”, but when I listened to it and gave it more attention I thought “yes, this is actually pretty good”.
The album starts with the track Thousand Yard Stare. The catchy classic rock intro and choruses are interspersed with some calm moments. Awakening has a very good chorus and I love how the double layered vocals are done. This is also my favourite track on the album and would do great as a single. Hanging In The Balance is the longest track of the album and carries a symphonic rock/metal ambiance. After nine minutes there's an instrumental passage that contains a lot of solid metal riffs and a haunting Mellotron. The next piece Losing Ground has a catchy rhythm and chorus. The song itself gives me a somewhat haunting feeling. It is followed by Ghost which is a very sweet and tender composition, containing an acoustic guitar and no drums. Beautiful Sunrise starts in contrast to Ghost as a heavy track, but the chorus and other passages are actually quite calm and serene. The guitar solos are very cool and well varied. In Vacuum is the shortest track of the album at slightly longer than one minute. It's a very dark, haunting instrumental intermediate piece. The album ends with Clean Slate and contains a long instrumental passage with metal riffs, just like Hanging In The Balance. Sometimes the instrumental bits remind me of Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, and even post rock.
I think that the gentlemen of Profuna Ocean delivered a very solid album! Still, I miss some elements in the music. There are soundscapes and spaces present here and there, but some extra 'Richard Barbieri like soundscapes' in the background would fit the music quite nicely. I do hope that this band gets more recognition from the outside world and that they will make more albums in the future!
**** Iris Hidding (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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