Thanks to the ever increasing popularity of whack bands like Bullet for My Valentine, Trivium, etc. among the metallically-naïve listeners out there, it seems that metalcore has taken the place of nu-metal as the classification that bands most want to avoid - although deathcore is aggressively seeking the title, as well.
Century is one band that can carry the metalcore tag without shame. Their sophomore effort and Prosthetic Records debut, Black Ocean, isn't exactly overwhelming, but it is a breath of fresh air in a genre that mostly just sucks.
These guys tend to play the part of 'core more than metal, although the thick guitar tones, attempts at sounding progressive, and bass-emphasized drumming give it a metallic edge. On the whole, though, this band is more along the vein of the super dense-sounding hardcore movement being led by bands like Coliseum and Disfear than it is with the conceptualization of metalcore that most seem to have.
The title track on Black Ocean does a nice job of catching the band's basic sound: lots of awesome guitars, monotonous screaming, and bass-heavy drums. A fretful intro consisting of wild drums and charging feedback dives into a pulverizing verse with chaotic instrumentation all around, leading to a chorus highlighted by a sequence of graceful guitar licks that give it a distinctly epic tone. There is also an impressive amount of detail spent on the ambient aspects behind the bruising instrumentation, exhibiting the expansive traits mostly seen in post-rock/metal. Unfortunately, Black Ocean seems restricted to alternating between these basic pulverizing and epic sounds while displaying nothing else especially interesting, and the vocals tend to become a non-factor the longer you listen. Frontman Carson Slovak isn't an especially dynamic vocalist, as his screaming really only has one gear. There really isn't much variation here, although what does come through is generally quite good, and the production does a good job of playing toward Century's strengths.
Speaking of the production, Black Ocean was engineered by Slovak in his own studio, and he did a great job. Everything sounds nice and shiny. Fans of raw productions might be turned off by that description, but Century's sound relies on the clarity that Slovak provides, and the subtle guitar movements that supplement the band's heavy nature with distant atmospherics wouldn't come through with a harsh production.
This band is barely three years old and they have a good amount of talent, so it wouldn't be surprising if their next release is a great one. They almost did it on Black Ocean, but it just needs a little more
zazz. Black Ocean fails to amaze or push boundaries, but it's still a 2008 standout.