Finland is quickly becoming the hottest place in Scandinavia to hear metal music that's brutal, melodic, and challenging. Already a healthy scene with mainstays such as Impaled Nazarene, Sentenced and Amorphis, a younger crop of bands are making sure to carry on the country's proud tradition of creating music worthy for the ears of metal fans worldwide. While many of the elder bands in Norway, for instance, find themselves in a transition state -- maturing beyond their roots -- Finland's young and upcoming acts find themselves with an excess of aggression and the compulsion to purge. A classic example is ...And Oceans, whose second album _The Symmetry of I, the Circle Of O_ (on Season Of Mist) [CoC #44] combines great riffs, strong harmonies, harsh blastbeats and powerful vocals. It must be in the water or something, as this part of the world is creating some of the most creative and innovative metal presently. And don't expect things to change anytime soon.
Vocalist and co-creator K-2t4-s picks up the story as he explains his thoughts and feelings on _The Symmetry..._: "The album was recorded at Tico-Tico Studio here in Finland", he begins. "It was released as a double digipak with a bonus disc containing ambient material which was spontaneously created in the studio, in addition with just a normal jewel case with the regular metal CD. Overall we are still pretty satisfied with the material and our previous releases, but of course there are things that could've been more properly done. One can never be too satisfied by one's own material, and that's the reason why one keeps releasing and making more material. I think the new album will be more like a well-done [piece of] beef compared to the half-raw beef _The Symmetry..._."
Getting a little more in-depth, K-2t4-s mentioned what originally spawned the idea for this ambient creative outburst, and what additional bands were involved. "The idea came long before entering the studio. Originally there were two bands, Puissance and Tiermes. Puissance did their job, but Tiermes were too busy with their minds that they didn't have the time to finish their track. We just wanted to add some special atmospheres to the album and these bands in question would've contributed by doing some material for us. Both bands are also very different to each other and therefore it would have suited the concept perfectly."
So will you continue to create that sort of music in the future?
"I don't think we will continue creating that much ambient type of music for our next release 'cause it got a bit monotonous and boring. Nothing against monotonous music, but we just want to constantly move on instead of suffering from stagnation."
With The _Symmetry of I, the Circle of O_ being ...And Oceans' sophomore album, I made sure to ask about their debut album, entitled _The Dynamic Gallery of Thoughts_ [CoC #33]. "Well, we are not that satisfied with the previous material, but I guess that's pretty normal", the frontman honestly states. "There are so many things that could've been done differently in the past. Some things are better on the debut album, but musically and lyrically _The Symmetry..._ is much better; it's more personal and colorful. I guess the debut album was an OK release -- nothing more, nothing less."
He also discussed the band's first recording -- a 1995 demo entitled _Wave_ -- along with their first official demo, which will soon be re-released. "The _Wave_ demo was an unofficial demo tape which was more technical and sounded more death metal than the material released after that particular tape. I don't think we will ever release it on CD, even if the sound quality is damn good. The first official demo, _Mare Liberum_, will be pressed on CD before Fall and released by the Italian label Nocturnal Music. The demo CD will also contain five live tracks from our European tour."
Our conversation turned back to _The Symmetry..._, in which the first-time listener is confronted by a tracklisting with titles like "Acid Sex and Marble Teeth" and "I Wish I Was Pregnant". So I had to ask, what exactly is going on here lyrically?
"The track titles should be seen as different sides of the same coin and as different coin of the same sides, if you prefer", begins the rather perplexing explanation. "Physical phrases are combinations of letters and numbers modified into codes in our mental vortex and [your] individual interpretation and comprehension is the energy of systematic thinking. Man is divided [into] mental sides, like a coin in its physical existence, and therefore the energy is visualized one way or the other, stronger or weaker depending on the person in question. Actually, I don't think it makes a difference which side is stronger 'cause both are naive and affected by conservative rituals, but they still do compensate each other. The semantic aspects of the written lines are as black as they are white, but yet they stay on the personal level. I stand behind the lyrical curtain, but it's up to the listener to decide what the deeper semantic construction is all about. I don't want to affect anybody particularly, 'cause it's always better for the listener to construct his own surrealistic mindworld into something suitable for him and his mind. Find the oppositions 'cause contradictions can be constructive." Hmm... I think I got it...
The oddly named vocalist also commented on the upcoming movie the band are working on, and all of the work that has gone into it thus far. "Actually, it was planned to be more like a short movie, about 12 to 15 minutes long, containing two ambient tracks and one metal track. The material has been shot with three different cameras, one 8mm, one 16mm and one security camera, and of course everything is black and white with some moments containing excessive light. The screen will be divided in at least two separate pictures, depending on where we can edit the film, and with different topics rolling on at the same time. We've got about 13 hours of material, but we still have to go through the whole material, do the cutting and editing. It's very time demanding, but we're working on it and hopefully we'll get it finished sometime this year. The head man behind the cameras has done a lot of short movies and won some cultural prizes for his work, but he is very busy with his own job and is often abroad, so we'll just have to wait for the right moment before finishing the movie. Maybe we will take the tracks from our next album instead of _The Symmetry..._ 'cause those tracks seem a bit old and boring for our current existence."
...And Oceans is composed of six musicians (guitarists Neptune and de Monde, vocalist K-2t4-s, bassist Gaunt, keyboardist Anzhaar, and Grief on drums) who find themselves involved with several different bands in the Finnish metal scene. Speaking about this, K-2t4-s states: "Some of our members are involved in different bands, but they are not project bands. They were all formed before ...And Oceans, but due to the fact that it's very difficult to find competent and interesting members around this neighbourhood. Our bass player, drummer and keyboard player are part of Black Dawn, who recently recorded their debut album on Necropolis Records. Our drummer is also part of Enochian Crescent, who are signed to Avantgarde Music; and our bass player is part of Rotten Sound, which is also signed to Necropolis Records. All bands are important for the members, and there's no sort of competition between the bands."
I concluded by congratulating him and the band for signing to Century Media, and asked how that deal came about, along with what the current status of the band is. "We just sent over some promo packages to several labels in order to gain knowledge about what different labels thought about us. Several labels showed interest, but as Century Media seemed like a great label we thought we could move on and sign a contract with them. We haven't really discussed any details about tours or anything yet, because we have a lot of stuff to do with our material at the moment. Hopefully we'll head out for a tour later, but we'll see what happens after the release."
And what about newly written material?
"We have basically seven tracks completed for the next album and I think we'll make two more before entering the studio in September. I think the new material is more rhythmic and vibrating than the previous material."