The Finnish black metal scene is one of the most interesting to follow in the world, and so far magnificent bands have shown their power under the banner of the country of the fjords and northern lights. And among them there are artists who try to break the traditional sound and forge something of their own, looking for new horizons, following their own voice a little further than what is provided to them as a framework.
…and Oceans is one of those bands from which a lot is expected of as 90’s veterans.
Symphonic in nature, with various avant-garde elements woven into the composition of their albums, the sextet from the Coast manage to interweave various philosophical themes through the lens of black metal, each time adding something a little different from their previous titles – diversity being the key word in everything they create.
A band that is definitely not afraid of changing its sound and reaching even far from black metal influences such as industrial and electronic metal.
The band members themselves, especially in the past, have proven to be a bit more eccentric and open to new ideas, and anyone who hasn’t yet seen their live performances – I recommend doing so, and also to check out the interviews with Kenny (the former lead singer of … and Oceans) and other similar materials.
„As in Gardens, So in Tombs“ is the Finns’ sixth full-length album, due to be out on January 27th via the Season of Mist label. The record contains a total of ten tracks and has a total duration of about 50 minutes, with two bonus tracks – „Samlarens Valv“ and „Third Eye Catalyst“ included on the limited editions and the CD Digibox version.
The album is created in a beautiful way – Mathias Lillmåns (vocals) withdraws from the urban environment and isolates himself in nature, reading various books and pondering various philosophical topics, resulting in a quite distinctive album in terms of theme and creation process from “ Cosmic World Mother“ – a much calmer and philosophically conceived work was born.
The musician spoke about this experience:
“I went back to gardens, moved away from the city into the nature. I always felt like I needed to be in a dark place to create lyrics that came from the heart, ‘when the body suffers, the mind flowers,’ kind of state. This time I was at ease, and it was surprisingly efficient. I usually don’t want to spoil too much and having people to think for themselves, but yes, I had the time to sit down and read during the pandemic and came to some conclusions (as in nature, so in books). I think it’s a very calming thought, that whatever happens, whenever it happens, makes no difference. We have always and always will be a part of the circle of eternal energy; we have always existed and will always exist in some form. A notion that became ever so clear when reading up on different religions, worldviews, customs, and philosophies.”
„As in Gardens, So in Tombs“ has an epic beginning, with energetic blasts and a beautiful symphonic instrumental – I’m not a die-hard fan of symphonic black metal, but the instrumental here is really interesting to follow. There are also small twists with industrial elements, turning the tracks into a certain kind of futuristic black metal during almost the entire duration of the album – something that brings a special nuance to the music and provokes real interest in the music.
The vocals are articulate and keep erupting throughout with very accurate reflections of Mathias Lillmåns’ philosophical musings – the lyrics themselves singlehandedly rise above everything else.
„The connection between the seen and the unseen
The bond of the sacred and the ordinary
To vibrate as one, to resonate as hundred and ten
As strings where time and place does not matter“
It is about quite frank reflections on the invisible in the world, as the musicians once again extend far above the earth’s surface and the human experience, reaching the outer space and its hidden secrets, and among the lyrics we will also find the story of the Collector – the main protagonist, who is also at the center of the front album artwork.
In „Within Fire and Crystal“, the third track of the album, we can even feel a ritualistic, trance-like atmosphere, as the lyrics sing of the stars, about the watcher of the spheres, revealing all secrets, the opening of cosmic portals…
Observer of orbs
Watcher of spheres
Revelator of all the secrets
The Head of Days and
Sons of Man
And the stars came falling down
Painted the sky with silver stripes
In a brief moment of clarity,
The stars revealed themselves
…and the stars fell down…“
Although it starts off more epic than I like at first, with ‘Within Fire and Crystal’ the album gains more power and the vocals become more and more ferocious and aggressive with each subsequent track, as of course, the album’s characteristic symphonic instrumental elements and very brief industrial metal inclusions are present again, with two of the tracks being in Swedish (one of the two official languages in Finland).
There is no way that even the first of them – „LIKT TÖRNEN GENOM KÖTT“ does not make an impression on you.
The vocals are heartbreakingly fierce, and the instrumentals are like a cutting well-oiled machine, from which sound is extracted as if from the darkest possible rituals in the middle of a misty midnight forest. I have no idea what exactly they’re communicating with their authentic appeals in this song, but I strongly suspect I’m on the right track. A 90’s track that keeps you in suspense and you don’t want it to ever reach the final point. Yes, it’s that good.
As I mentioned above, after the third track the atmosphere becomes more heated and the themes touched on in the lyrics resonate more and more vividly, and in the first bonus track to the album after the majestic finale of „Ambivalent God“, we are thrown back into a 90s whirlwind of cutting guitars and melodies, in which something unique can be heard – shamanic chants, again in Swedish, reminding me a lot of the Mexican black metal occultists Black Hate and also forming, together with the pianos and the rest of the symphonic instrumental, something very interesting and exciting to listen to. I must say – in Swedish the tracks sound amazingly more raw and powerful.
The second bonus song – „Third Eye Catalyst“ is no less attractive to the ear, which with the same aggressive approach directly provokes an opening of consciousness to the unknown and hidden knowledge.
And with that said, …and Oceans won me over once again with their thirst for conquering new horizons and their dedication to the music-making process itself.
„As in Gardens, So in Tombs“ is a different album from what you are most likely used to hearing – the atmosphere is filled with gothic dark beauty, with bestial energy, futuristic industrial elements. Ritualistic voices pass gently as if to remind of the unknown dimensions, interrupted by an aggressive howl, surrounded by a symphony and deranged drums and guitars.
It’s an adventure to hear an album like this and get into that kind of philosophical artistic expression, channeled through the lens of black metal.
„Channel the unseen
Conjure other multifaceted realms
To alternate between parallels
To stand between horizons“
Album: „As in Gardens, So in Tombs“
Band: …and Oceans
Release Date: 27.01.2023
Label: Season of Mist
There are a few released tracks already, you can hear them all here:
𝔐𝔬𝔱𝔥𝔢𝔯 𝔬𝔣 𝔗𝔥𝔢 𝔙𝔬𝔦𝔡
𝔘𝔫𝔡𝔢𝔯𝔤𝔯𝔬𝔲𝔫𝔡 𝔪𝔲𝔰𝔦𝔠 𝔦𝔰 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔰𝔭𝔦𝔯𝔦𝔱𝔲𝔞𝔩 𝔴𝔢𝔞𝔭𝔬𝔫 𝔞𝔤𝔞𝔦𝔫𝔰𝔱 𝔪𝔢𝔡𝔦𝔬𝔠𝔯𝔦𝔱𝔶.