…And Oceans have outdone themselves with their latest album, “As In Gardens, So In Tombs.” The Finnish symphonic black metal band has proven once again that their sound is constantly evolving and improving. Lead single “Cloud Heads” sets the tone for the rest of the album with its combination of aggressive blastbeats, melodic symphonic elements, and celestial touches. Vocalist Mathias Lillmåns explains that this song was the first to be written after their previous album, “Cosmic World Mother,” and was the catalyst for the rest of the album.
The creative process for “As In Gardens, So In Tombs” was a more relaxed one compared to “Cosmic World Mother,” which was a nerve-wracking and rushed project. Guitarist Timo Kontio and Lillmåns both mention that the pressure was off for this album, allowing them to focus solely on the music. Lillmåns also notes that he typically writes his lyrics under tight deadlines and while traveling, but this time he was able to write at a steady pace without the need for pressure.
The result of this relaxed creative process can be heard in the bright melodies and essential orchestral elements throughout the album. Lillmåns’ vocals have also leveled up, sounding more powerful and confident. The album has a warm, natural feel to it, meant to be played while walking alone in nature. The production was also a big factor in the grand and melodic sound of the album, with Juho Räihä at SoundSpiral Audio and Tore Stjerna at NBS Production taking the lead.
“As In Gardens, So In Tombs” is a testament to …And Oceans’ ability to evolve and improve their sound with each album. Despite having a long stretch between albums the band has never revisited the same tones and feel, and this latest effort shows that they are continuing to push the boundaries of symphonic black metal. It’s refreshing to see a band take the time to focus on the small details, resulting in an album that is both intoxicatingly aggressive and enjoyable to listen to.
…And Oceans has solidified their place as one of the leading symphonic black metal bands. This album release will absolutely stand the test of time and for me was and is meant to be enjoyed and revisited for years to come. The combination of aggressive black metal, melodic symphonic elements, and thoughtful lyrics make for a listening experience that is unmatched in the genre as of recent memory. Fans of symphonic black metal, as well as fans of …And Oceans’ previous work, will not be disappointed with this album. It’s time to dive into the depths of …And Oceans’ oceanic sound and let their music wash over you.
Overall score: 10/10
Review by: George Joseph Bauman IV