The Outer Ocean is the first release from High Roller Records artist VOJD. However, it was originally started as the third release from Swedish rockers Black Trip. Why change the name? Well after getting new drummer Anders Bentell and new guitarist Linus Bjorklund the remaining Black Trip members felt that with the new members and the new material it was time to start a new chapter.
According to the band’s vocalist Joseph Tholl, VOJD is a much more serious proposition than Black Trip ever was: “I’d say it’s a bit more focused now. It’s definitely no side project. We want to play live more on this album than we’ve done on the previous ones”. Original guitarist Peter Stjarnvind stated “I think VOJD is more of a mix of heavy rock and heavy metal than the sound we had before. And the production is bigger than the previous albums.” I would have to agree. The Outer Ocean has a better sound, production, and overall the songwriting is much better. Where the first two Black Trip albums sounded similar to Black Sabbath meets the first two Iron Maiden albums, VOJD sounds like that early Iron Maiden sound meets Thin Lizzy. This album is deep-rooted in 70’s hard rock with a good deal of melody.
Opening track “Break Out” is the perfect opener. It is a positive, upbeat, driving tempo to really gets your blood pumping. Next comes “Delusions in the Sky” which has great Lizzy-like guitar harmony as well as a great guitar solo with a trade-off between both guitarists. “Secular Wire” keeps the upbeat pace going which leads into the title track,”The Outer Ocean”. This track has a sludgy, prodding beat that sets an ethereal atmosphere for the song. They nailed the production on this one, great track. “Vindicated Blues” brings the energy back up with some great guitar work on this song, one of the stronger songs on the album.
“On An Endless Day of Winter” is another melodic rocker that fits in with the rest of the album. Things get heavier with the leadoff single, “Heavy Skies”. This song has a great driving guitar riff and overall the guitars have a heavier tone to them. “On the Run” opens with fantastic duo guitar leads and then turns out a terrific rhythm chord progression. The album takes a left turn with track nine “Dream Machine” and I like it! The song starts off as a slow, dirty blues pattern complete with harmonica. It picks up into a jam in the middle and finishes the way it started. To me, this shows just how dynamic and diverse these musicians are.
“Walked Me Under” is one of those hidden gem songs that is placed near the end of the album to make you repeat the whole thing again. Another great guitar harmony part, but with a harder edge. Great song! The album ends with the prodder “To the Light”. Good guitar work on this track, but this one is just OK to me.
The Outer Ocean is the perfect album for fans of 70’s influenced rock and roll. VOJD has taken a good step up in songwriting and production from their Black Trip days. Their sound has moved to a more hard rock than heavy metal sound by adding more melody which is a good thing. Not a bad song on this album, so it every song is worth one point I would give this record a 9 out of 11. Support these guys, they should be a big part of the future of rock and roll!