Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sweet William – Ocean (2013)

Sweet William 
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Good news : Sweet William is back with a new album. Oliver Heuer and his band present “Ocean”, a concept album that will take you from quiet to dark waters, and back. The ocean is here a symbol for life and human condition, so the German present a vast panel of emotions as well as musical genres. 27 years have passed since the band has formed, and listening to this album you will feel maturity and sobriety, but also a wish to perpetually experiment and reassess. The line-up is a return to the band’s roots, with Marius Nagel (drums), Frank Breuer (bass and programming, and Markus Gerlach (drums, percussions). Oliver Heuer is in charge of vocals, guitars, synths and programming.

As seagulls welcome you together with soft keys in the neoclassical intro of the album, you might think you’re about to listen to some new age album, but Sweet William has prepared a fine album of gothic rock with a modern electronic twist to it. 18 tracks – it is a long album- of variations of moods and styles, like an emotional rollercoaster, like the ocean, like life. The concept is clear, and the album sticks to it entirely. 
You´ll hear some gothic rock songs, close to perfection. “Reach out” , the amazing “Ocean” and “Over” have great riffs, fantastic vocals, head banging drums, and they will remind you how inspired and talented this band is. The special sound of Sweet William, electro-acoustic guitar alternating with electric guitar close to hard rock, is back and it’s great to hear these new songs. 

To explore the human mind’s darkness and complexity, some tracks are more experimental and psychedelic. This is the case of “Insane” and “Tsunami”, the best tracks on the album in my opinion. “Insane” is oppressive, claustrophobic, and the distortion of vocals transmits the feeling of insanity while guitars and synths grow more and more threatening. It reminds me of another amazing track of Sweet William: “18.01.1991”.“Tsunami” follows the same path, and goes even further in the experimentation and darkness. It is instrumental only, with tortured guitars and computer produced sounds. Remarkable. “Turning” is another very good rock song, more up-beat . Guitar parts are amazing and the synths give the song a new wave feel. Also included is a cover of Joy Division’s “New Dawn Fades”. The band has made a sober and faithful cover, yet they have added heavier guitars and more depth to the song, giving it their particular sound and making it fit perfectly in the album. “Until you sleep” is a piano ballad, a good song in itself, but quite surprising on a Sweet William album. 

The band has decided to experiment with electro/dark ambient sounds on this album, and many tracks follow this path. Some tracks blend these sounds perfectly with Oliver Heuer’s strong vocals and rock guitars, for example “Everytime and Everywhere”.  “Welcome to the Show” is a very danceable track, and very original. With “Silence”, Depeche Mode comes to mind. It is a relaxed peaceful track, with synths like waves of a quiet sea. “Last Restart” is a very cool Dark Wave track, danceable and dark.  The album ends with two interesting songs:  First “A walk down to the sea”, an experimental ballad that will hypnotize you, then “The End of the World”, perfect conclusion to the concept album, seem to represent the calm after –and before- the storm. 

With this new album, Sweet William proves that they still have much to say. They also prove that they are not ready to rest on their laurels, and that is something that deserves respect and admiration. Oliver Heuer’s vocals are still spellbinding, not to speak about the guitars. Some tracks on the album are simply amazing. However, this is not a classic gothic rock album, so in order to enjoy the most of it, keep an open mind to it.

Guillaume Renard