…and Oceans – Cosmic World Mother Review

Formed in 1995 around the time that Emperor and Dimmu Borgir were first unleashing full-length platters of symphonic black metal upon the world, Finland’s …and Oceans initially dabbled in a style similar to their more infamous Norwegian neighbors, releasing two demos before dropping their debut The Dynamic Gallery of Thoughts on Season of Mist in 1998. Not content to rehash a tried and true formula, the band immediately began to evolve on each successive release. They added more and more electronic and industrial elements until 2005 when they fully embraced a more experimental direction and changed their name to Havoc Unit. Over a decade later, original guitarists Timo Kontio and Teemu Saari reunited to resurrect …and Oceans, rounding out the band with a new cast of characters including Finntroll’s Mathias Lillmåns on vocals. What have constant stylistic change, new blood, and time have done to the band’s sound?

Cosmic World Mother is the sound of …and Oceans paying tribute to each of its many iterations from years past. The electronic and industrial elements remain, but they are used to support the record’s main style; the symphonic black metal that the band peddled when it first began. Powerful snarls, vicious riffs, melodic leads, ascendant keys, and subtle electronic touches give the record a darkness that is triumphantly enthroned. Dimmu Borgir is the obvious comparison, but the melodic atmosphere of Shylmagoghnar comes to mind nearly as often. The success of Cosmic World Mother comes through the balance achieved between all of its components. Grand melodicism never overwhelms the crushing heaviness, and the electronic elements are used sparsely enough to leave you wanting more. Embedded album opener “The Dissolution of Mind and Matter” provides a great example of what you’ll find here, its intense thrash riff giving way to mournful tremolos and beautiful key flourishes while Lillmåns gives a dominant vocal performance over it all.

A tale of two halves, Cosmic World Mother begins conservatively before revealing its full powers. The first four songs are extremely well-executed and constructed meloblack tunes with twisting and turning riffs, loads of melody, and just trace hints of …and Oceans’ electronic past. But the band begins to open up their bag of tricks on the Song-o’-the-Year-contending title track. “Cosmic World Mother” opens with electronically distorted keys, launches into furious melodic black metal, then deftly merges into what sounds like a neo-classical EDM passage before closing out with aggressive force. This extremely effective combination of sounds opens the floodgates for more experimentation on the back half of the album. “Helminthiasis” incorporates more melodic ambience. “In Abhorrence upon Meadows” is a beautiful atmospheric piano piece. Finally, “The Flickering Lights” closes the whole album out with some melancholically pagan glory.

...and Oceans - 2020 picture of the band

Cosmic World Mother features stunning production. Landing at DR 8 like my other Season of Mist promo from 2020, everything sounds just about perfect. The riffs are molten, the symphonic elements are complementary and not overwhelming, the vocals are fantastic, and it all combines to give the album a sense of weighty grandeur. Timo and Teemu have written some stunning riffs and leads, and Lillmåns has given …and Oceans a new level of confidence and power. Clocking in at eleven tracks and 47 minutes, Cosmic World Mother is a joy to spin front to back and over again. There are no weak tracks to be found here, but the black dimensions of “The Dissolution of Mind and Matter,” “Five of Swords,” “Cosmic World Mother,” Helminthiasis,” and “The Flickering Lights” are pure puritanical Armageddon.

After decades of wandering, …and Oceans find themselves back where they started, but older and wiser. On Cosmic World Mother, they’ve imbued their original symphonic black metal style with bits of the atmospheric and electronic elements they’ve picked up over the years, and it works like a charm. This is easily one of the best black metal albums I’ve heard in quite a while, so I suggest that you grab your bathing suit and floaty and brave the waves.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist Records
Websites: andoceans.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/andoceans
Releases Worldwide: May 8th, 2020

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