Review Summary: Just like a phoenix gloriously emerging, Cosmic World Mother rises as a triumphant comeback.
There's always some kind of romanticism surrounding comeback albums. An expectation sneaks in, eager for the long-awaited return, and the longer the absence, the greater the suspense. It is certainly not uncommon to witness unexpected comebacks in the music business, as happened recently with Afterbirth, but when it follows a seventeen-year hiatus, it becomes something that should be highlighted. Now the question is whether ...And Oceans' return is worthy of attention, or if it's just another desperate attempt to hold on to a past that has long since fled. If there is one thing that saddens me, it is to see an artist dragging himself, either for monetary reasons or for loss of contact with reality. Since these lads come from a country not exactly known for its financial problems, I would bet that their comeback is more related to a genuine desire to add a new chapter to their story than anything else. I'm not going to lie, I'm not a huge fan of the band's past work, which has evolved from a conventional symphonic black metal signature into an electronic / industrial hybrid. I realize many people valued the band's bold attitude in breaking genre canons. I respect that. Yet, artistically, I feel the band has never been able to take a real step forward. The idea and ambition were there but the musical materialization always left a little to be desired. Now almost two decades later, with a fresh lineup, it remains to be seen which musical direction ...And Oceans have embraced and whether they managed to fully materialize it.
Cosmic World Mother's
theme revolves around energy, which according to the laws of physics is never lost, just redirected. The band takes this concept of eternal cosmic energy and links it to the cycles of life and death. The theme is perfectly embodied in the title track, which gives off an ethereal vibe largely due to the baroque harmony enhanced by the synthesizer. 'Cosmic World Mother' is however a stylistic exception, representing the only evident link with the band's electronic era. The remaining songs are more related to ...And Oceans' early symphonic black metal period, but now with a modern touch and much greater musical maturity. Songs such as 'The Dissolution of Mind and Matter' and 'Vigilance and Atrophy' perfectly mirror this "back to the roots" approach. These first two tracks place Cosmic World Mother
somewhere between Marduk and Emperor, by combining a straightforward power somewhat similar to their Swedish neighbours with symphonic soundscapes reminiscent of the band's early days. This time around it feels like ...And Oceans have finally managed to materialize their abstract idea to perfection. We find no weak spots in Cosmic World Mother
, everything sounds cohesive, coherent and invigorating. The fresh lineup is certainly also a success factor, with keyboardist Antti Simonen actively contributing to the songwriting and vocalist Mathias Lillmåns (Finntroll) delivering a massive performance that sometimes seems to swing between Mortuus and Tomas Lindberg. The only critical observation I would like to make is that, despite its consistency, Cosmic World Mother
could have shown greater diversity by adding further moments similar to 'The Flickering Lights' or 'In Abhorrence Upon Meadows'. I believe that the addition of a more contrasting and dramatic song immediately following the title track would benefit the album's balance, thus creating a wider scope. Some listeners may also feel that some experimentation or greater connection to the band's electronic period may be missing, however as the wise man says, you can never please everyone. As far as I'm concerned, it seems clear to me that this symphonic, straightforward approach proved to be a wise decision that will surely lead the band into a successful new cycle.
Just like a phoenix gloriously emerging, Cosmic World Mother
rises as a triumphant comeback. It's the start of a new chapter for a band that not only succeeded in entering the decade in the best possible way, but also managed to deliver its best album to date.