The second and final ...And Oceans album to explore an ill-fated techno black metal direction is a much tighter offering than its predecessor 'A.M.G.O.D,' but suffers from the same lack of originality along with a new, extreme tendency towards repetition. Perhaps irritated by fans' complaints that they just aren't as good as they used to be, or that the idea of mixing black metal with techno elements will clearly never really work, these musicians abandoned the ...And Oceans project hereafter and rebranded as techno outfit Havoc Unit. Predictably, I haven't ever checked up on them to see how that's all going.
The main problem with 'Cypher' is that it isn't black metal by any stretch of the imagination. Even 'A.M.G.O.D' featured a few of the elements that made early ...And Oceans so pleasant, but here it's all been replaced by ugly, clinical industrial metal more in line with bands like Ministry or Nine Inch Nails, only much less inventive and experimental. Needlessly elaborate song titles and a stab at a bad album concept aren't enough to disguise this dull and repetitive music for what it is, and it seems ...And Oceans is here targeting the more mainstream side of metal exclusively. Not that there's anything inherently wrong with that, but a lack of artistic integrity and a focus on cheap thrills do sort of come with the territory.
The sound here is generally medium speed, led by a combination of crunchy guitar riffs and tedious double bass drums that tick along in short bursts at a time, while keyboards fill out the sound with distracting futuristic atmospheres and incoherent sounds that once again end up being the most creative and interesting aspect. Kenny's vocals are quite expressive, but often to the point of melodrama as he ranges between several contradictory styles that never really impress. However much I was prepared to give this album a chance with the early songs, by the half-way point it becomes incredibly tedious and isn't one I would recommend. I admire ...And Oceans for advancing their sound so much, but it does seem like a deterioration.
1. Fragile: Pictures of Silence: Melting the Skies
2. Picturesque: Cataclysm Savour: And the Little Things That Make Us Smile
3. Angelina: Chthonian Earth: Her Face Forms Worms
4. Halcyon: The Heavy Silence: In Silent Rain
5. Aphelion: Light Evanescence: Into Extinction
6. Opaque: The Morning I Woke Up Dead: Today Is the Day
7. Aphid: Devil Flower: Fruits of Lunacy
8. Voyage: Lost Between Horizons: Eaten by the Distance
9. Catharsis: End of Organisms: Absolute Purification of Sins
10. Silhouette: In White Rooms: Vacant Bodies
11. Comatose: The World Amnesia: Planet Dead
12. Debris: The Magenta Harvest: Liquid Flesh
13. Nail: An Odyssey in Flesh: Celebrate the New Skin
Track Listings: 1. Fragile: Pictures Of Silence: Melting The Skies / 2. Picturesque: Cataclysm Saviour: And The Little Things That Make Us Smile / 3. Angelina: Chthonian Earth: Her Face Forms Worms / 4. Halcyon: The Heavy Silence: In Silent Rain / 5. Aphelion: Light Evanescence: Into Extinction / 6. Opaque: The Morning I Woke Up Dead: Today Is The Day / 7. Aphid: Devil Flower: Fruits Of Lunacy / 8. Voyage: Lost Between Horizons: Eaten By The Distance / 9. Catharsis: End Of Organisms: Absolute Purification Of Sins / 10. Silhouette: In White Rooms: Vacant Bodies / 11. Comatose: The World Amnesia: Planet Dead / 12. Debris: The Magenta Harvest: Liquid Flesh / 13. Nail: An Odyssey In Flesh: Celebrate The New Skin