Even though we’ve seen quite a few veteran bands returning in recent years, not too many of the comebacks has filled me with such anticipation and dread as the news of upcoming …And Oceans album did. After all, they were the most interesting band Finnish Black Metal had to offer, back in the day. Personal heroes and musically always above the average. Their debut album “The Dynamic Gallery of Thoughts“ (1998) is a masterpiece of keyboard driven Black Metal and one of my very favourites from the Finnish scene in general. The follow up, “The Symmetry of I, The Circle of O“ (1999) took a more experimental and progressive lean in things, while still being equally impressive. After these defining Black Metal releases they moved forward to more industrial landscapes. And to their merit it must be said that very few could do it better than …And Oceans did. After the somewhat misunderstood and overlooked “Cypher“ album in 2002 the band fell into hiatus.
Now, as their latest album is old enough to drive car and buy alcohol in most countries …And Oceans return with a new record. That alone is big news in the Prog Cave. As they were a band you could never foretell what they were up to, curiosity levels went up to maximum levels in a nanosecond. Yet, the dread raised its head too, when the news of their original vocalist Kena Strömsholm leaving in the middle of the recording process came to public awareness. A masterful front man and a colourful personality, with a very creative mindset is something any band would hate to loose. His replacement was announced in the form of Mathias Lillmåns of Finntroll fame and the images of fake troll ears he may bring along did not fully clear my doubts. Then, the first singles were out. “The Dissolution of Mind and Matter” and “Five of Swords” were both…Well… Typical Melodic Black Metal. Definitely nothing very challenging to the listener like their previous body of work has been. The first listen to the full album was therefore just as much scary as it was alluring.
The first thing that one will notice with “Cosmic World Mother“ is the overall brutality of the drumming and the incredibly fast pace of the material in general. Shit, it could be easily described as Marduk with heavy keyboard layers. It might not be very progressive, but as the album goes onward, it proves to be extremely effective in what it does. The melodies are there, but they come and go like surgical bursts. Just like the keyboards as well. Everything here seems to serve the overall purpose of the music written. None of these aspects takes a leading role over the others. Not even the before mentioned drumming. The vocals have been mixed tightly into the body of music as well, giving “Cosmic World Mother” a quite peculiar soundscape. Like a full on assault on ones senses, where each instrument comes to you as equally punishing blows. An avalanche of sound, with no champion running in before the ransacking horde. Just the full clash, without further chest beating.
How about the music then? It could be best described as a sweet paradox. This is by far the catchiest and most accessible …And Oceans material to date, being at the same time the most brutal thing they have ever recorded. To my great surprise, the elements I feared the most (accessibility and catchiness) were not annoying at all. Quite the contrary, actually. This is an album that is very easy to listen to and return to again and again. And when the title track goes on with those throbbing keyboards that could have been taken out from their first industrial masterpiece “A.M.G.O.D.“, …And Oceans begin showing their adventurous side too. Whereas “As the After Becomes the Before” may be nodding towards their first album, it is easy to say the new album has taken the best bits of their career and moulded something new out of the substances. A lot like Paradise Lost did with their latest album, just recently. Shit, “Cosmic World Mother” is already one of my most played albums this year and will surely remain being so for the remaining half of 2020 as well.
Melodic Black Metal as a genre has been somewhat ridiculed in recent years, but that is surely due the fact that the pioneers of the direction have not been able to deliver anything noteworthy in decades. Now …And Oceans storm out with an album that is unashamedly keyboard driven and melodic, but to our great surprise very much on the winning side of things. The world has been missing this type of delivery for sure. After several spins of “Cosmic World Mother” a couple of things need to be underlined. To this day, …And Oceans have not yet recorded an album alike and even if their tools of the trade could surely be from the 90’s alone, this is not in the least bit a desperate cry for past glories and bygone decades. This is music for today and many years to come. This album here could be compared to Bumblebee in those Transformers movies of late. As nostalgic and sweet as that old yellow Volkswagen was in the 80’s, we all enjoy the current version to a great extent as it is so smooth and entertaining. An updated version of a familiar thing. This is what “Cosmic World Mother” is as well. Welcome back, …And Oceans. You have been missed.
Rating – 4.5/5