ALBUM REVIEW: …And Oceans – As In Gardens, So In Tombs

From crediting ventriloquist dummies with vocal performances to a former singer whose stage wear involved blue paint and a dress, it’s safe to say that Finnish act …And Oceans has a rather unique history. Starting life as a symphonic black metal act, guitarist and founder member Timo Kontio moved the band towards a more industrial sound before eventually choosing to alter their name accordingly. After releasing one full-length album as Havoc Unit, Kontio returned to the band’s original name and style in 2017, reuniting with former axe partner Teemu Saari along the way.

Comeback album Cosmic World Mother was the result and using that as a leaping off point, the band returned with the equally remarkable follow-up As in Gardens, So in Tombs (Season of Mist). After an atmospheric opening, the monstrous title track kicks in with tremolo-picked riffs and blastbeats. Vicious roaring vocals sit confidently next to bright melodies, the song even leaving room for a science fiction-infused middle section.

‘The Collector and His Construct’ echoes early Dark Tranquillity while the folky cues of ‘Within Fire and Crystal’ aren’t a million miles away from Storm‘s Nordavind (Moonfog) album, drummer Kauko Kuusisalo earning himself a brief time in the spotlight with some excellent stick and footwork. ‘Carried on Lead Wings’ features another surging blast of fast-picked riffs backed by keyboard orchestrations from Antti Simonen before the mighty ‘Likt Törnen Genom Kött’ (“Like Thorns Through Flesh”) and the industrial-infused ‘Cloud Heads’ bear certain similarities to early Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth.

The methodical crawl of ‘Wine into Water’ picks up pace before the sci-fi thrust of ‘Inverse Magnification Matrix’ leads into the groove fuelled, Dark Tranquillity energy of ‘The Earth Canvas’ and the epic serpentine finale of ‘Ambivalent God’. Quite why ‘Samlarens Valv’ has been relegated to bonus material status is a complete mystery as its old-school riffs and futuristic keyboards are more than deserving of a place on the main tracklist. The same could even be argued for another impressive bonus track, ‘Third Eye Catalyst’.

Keen melodies, savage riffs, and some simply feral vocals from Finntroll frontman Mathias Lillmåns all contribute to a record that sounds fresh and new like it could also have been released in the late ’90s/early ’00s by the likes of Spinefarm or Osmose. Sure, some of the songs could have been trimmed off a little fat here and there but overall As in Gardens, So in Tombs is a hugely confident and massively enjoyable slab of extreme Finnish metal.

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8 / 10