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| 9 September 2014 | 9 Replies

5 September 2014
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Tea Party - Ocean At The End cover

The Ocean At The End is a mighty return for The Tea Party after a ten year hiatus from the recording studio. It’s an album that takes as its touchstone the relentless musical wanderlust of Led Zeppelin, yet which sounds like nothing more so than the Canadian band themselves, albeit ten years older and wiser.

The mighty riffs and pounding drums which are most often recalled of Zep’s work are present here, as is a willingness to create art – to paint pictures with words and music, and talking of art, the album cover itself is magnificent.

Jeff Martin guides his true love with a firm hand, with added input now from Jeff Burrows and Stuart Chatwood, who all contribute more light and shade than ever before.

Always a band – like Zeppelin – with a penchant for epic musical statements, The Ocean At The End is the equal of just about anything in their back catalogue – even their most beloved works The Tea Party, Splendor Solis and The Edges Of Twilight, and their unfairly under rated The Interzone Mantras.

Like all their best work, lyrically TOATE finds Martin embarking on spiritual searches and skirmishes through the darkly mysterious The Black Sea and the soaring Cypher.

Daniel Lanois’ The Maker is given an esoteric makeover, Martin’s baritone making the spiritual sound his own, seemingly effortlessly, before The Tea Party again throw shadows of Led Zeppelin with the seductive Black Roses and the exotic, smoky Brazil.

A strong highlight of their early albums was the use of a myriad of exotic instruments, and there’s no shortage of that here as mysterious sounds emanate enticingly like wisps of smoke from a hookah. Between them the threesome are credited with some 27 instruments which ensure that alongside the mighty, meaty riffs and driving drums TOATE features a never-ending cornucopia of new and interesting sounds to excite the ears.

The 11th Hour hints at early Gary Numan, while The Cass Corridor sees Martin completely out of character with a cars, bars & girls lyric about a ‘skinny white boy’ and a raucous, garagey raw blues sound that verges on punk, complete with a lyrical nod to the MC5. It’s a visceral thrill that whets the palate for more.

If first single Waters On Fire seemed a perhaps less than engaging track upon release, repeated listens allow one to immerse in it more – perhaps a symptom of us rushing around looking for immediacy rather than letting new music sink in. The Tea Party were never meant to be disposable pop!

The mesmeric and epic title track is another highlight, and features a magical, tingling blues guitar solo from Martin, before the final track Into the Unknown, a piece of instrumental electronic whimsy that draws you in like a whirlpool and points at the path ahead for the reunited band – unknown, but together.

Category: CD Reviews

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Comments (9)

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  1. Grahame says:

    Sorry Shane i have to disagree. I’m a big fan of the band, but not this album. I find a few of the songs bordering on irritating e.g. Black Roses, The Cass Corridor. I do like ‘Into The Unknown’ a lot, as this seems to be the band experimenting & pushing the envelope a little.

    The majority of the alum just seems to have too much Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Gary Newman & Bowie influences throughout, almost bordering on a tribute album at times.

    That said, while these 3 gentlemen are together, there is always hope.

    Enjoyed your review though


  2. Shane says:

    Fair call Grahame – I do think it will be interesting to hear this material live against the old stuff!

  3. Grahame says:

    Very true. The shows will be amazing, enjoy

  4. dave p says:

    Wholeheartedly agree! This is an unexpected return to form, from a band I have been following since their first album “Splendor Solis”! It’s like they never went away – but they did, and they are the better for it!

  5. Shane says:

    If anyone gives a toss, ‘Dark Sylvan Ungulate”s review (click on the previous comment link) is a fascinatingly unresearched bitch and moan which completely quotes my review out of context. Fun for all the family!!

  6. I’m sorry Shane, I didn’t mean for my review to bounce back into your comments, and although I was quite rude when I quoted that small bit of your review, I certainly did not intend for it to be personal. I really can’t stand the album though.

  7. Andrew says:

    Just wanted to say that I grew up loving The Tea Party, starting playing guitar because of Jeff, and have seen them around 10 times over the years.

    Now that said, I am really enjoying the new album. I was bracing myself for disappointment, but was pleasantly surprised. I like it so much I bought a ticket for both nights in Vancouver, BC in December! Can’t wait!

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