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With elaborate and showy song titles, not to mention a band name that begins with ellipsis, it's clear that Finland's '...And Oceans' fancy themselves as experimental musicians working to break down musical boundaries, and while this second album is in essence quite similar to its predecessor, it's clear throughout that this is a very interesting band with a lot of enjoyable bright ideas.
For a start, this somehow manages to be experimental at no cost to the accessibility of the music. In fact, even containing hallmark elements of black metal in the passages led by blast beats, roaring guitars and the almost entirely rasped vocals, it ends up sounding a lot less off-putting to newcomers than something like Emperor might. Melody is the key ingredient here, provided in heaps by keyboard player Anzhaar who is the real star of the recording, as every song is guided along by soft and soaring keyboard melodies similar to the epic black metal of bands like Summoning, but equally reminiscent of eighties gothic rock. The keyboards were a prominent instrument in the previous album, but here they completely dominate the field, leaving the other instruments significantly in the background; depending on the listener's inclinations towards black metal this will likely be the deciding point of whether '...And Oceans' lost it after the first album, or after this one. Only the more open-minded souls would even consider venturing beyond this point in the discography.
This is still black metal at the core, despite being lightened several shades to a sort of greyish metal, but the pummelling sections actually sound rather pleasant as is often the case for atmospheric black metal bands (like Ancient and Arcturus) rather than as something violent. The vocals of K-274-S mostly follow a very typical black metal crow screech that isn't very distinctive, but become a little more showy and even a little irritating on many songs where he injects more emotion into his android programming (or whatever he is, with a name like K-2T4-S). This is most prominent on 'I Wish I Was Pregnant' where his voice becomes particularly strained, and again it's a fairly extreme element that may put off some potential listeners. In the end, this isn't a perfect album by any means, and it grabbed me a lot more in the first song than at any point afterwards, but it could make for seriously enjoyable listening for anyone interested in atmospheric black metal, as opposed to the really hard stuff.
And then of course, there are the prog fans who may approach this album for its odd title. While you may be disappointed by the relative blandness of the first disc, the second is comprised entirely of synthesiser textures and melodies from Anzhaar to suit your post-new age needs, though he's no Vangelis. As the two discs together come in at under eighty minutes this could have been made into a single album easily, but then they wouldn't be able to make some of their clever points and name the discs "I" and "O" respectively. Tsk, these avant garde types.
1. Mechanic Hippie
2. Aquarium of Children - Ajatusten merenpinta
3. The Black Vagabond and the Swan of Two Heads
5. Baby Blue Doll - Merry G0 Mind
6. Äcid Sex and Marble Teeth (You-Phoria)
7. I Wish I Was Pregnant
1. Injected With Silence
2. Cacophonous Ballet
3. Higher Levels of Microbotic Fields
5. Mental Traffic
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Mechanic Hippie
2 Aquarium Of Children
3 Black Vagabond And The Swan Of Two Heads
5 Baby Blue Doll-Merry Go Mind
6 Acid Sex And Marble Teeth (You-Phoria)
7 I Wish I Was Pregnant
Disc #2 Tracklisting
1 Injected With Silence
2 Cacophonous Ballet
3 Higher Levels Of Microbotic Fields
5 Mental Traffic