Delving into the visual endeavors behind their latest black metal accomplishment.
After nearly two decades of absence, ...AND OCEANS saw a radiant return with the release of their new and almighty full-length Cosmic World Mother via their original label in Season of Mist. Standing as a testament to the band's growth, Cosmic World Mother ranks high among this year's black metal fold and can arguably be considered ...AND OCEAN's strongest effort to date for the album's symphonies propel listeners to elite heights achieved by Spiritual Black Dimensions-era DIMMU BORGIR.
Music aside, Cosmic World Mother is a stimulating visual experience from first glance of the album cover to the several gatefold inserts and imagery included within the physical release, courtesy of Season of Mist's own graphic designer Adrien Bousson. Bousson lays out immaculate illustrations that go hand in hand with the atmospheres ...AND OCEANS set forth with their black metal, making this one complete package that must be appreciated via the vinyl form.
We caught up with guitarist Timo Kontio and vocalist Mathias Lillmåns of ...AND OCEANS to talk briefly about the cinematic masterpiece that is Cosmic World Mother:
Last weekend saw the arrival of ‘Cosmic World Mother’, garnering high praise for what ranks among the top black metal releases of this year so far. Seeing as this comes almost decades from 2002’s ‘Cypher’, what do you take from this as a band? Timo: Of course we are satisfied and proud of this new album, but the feedback has been so overwhelming, huh. This just make us more confident and anxious to start gigging and touring. Seeing old and new fans. Just hoping that this situation we are living in gets better soon. Was there ever any sense of pressure on your end to deliver a definitive statement with this comeback, as if you had something to provide despite the influence you left behind with your early records? Timo: Well, this was one reason we didn’t do this before. I mean, we often thought if we could really do something worthy of being a new …And Oceans album etc. or if we should just leave it to rest. When the album was ready and released, we were happy that we made the decision. ‘Cosmic World Mother’ isn’t just great on a music level, but artistically as well, sporting an awe inspiring cover by Season of Mist’s own Adrien Bousson. When approaching the creative aspects of the record, what made you go with Bousson for the job? Timo: We were hunting this one painting (Yaroslav Gerzhedovich's Space Mirror) for the cover, but we found out that it had been used already. Then, we discussed with Adrien since most likely he would have done all the other artwork for the album, booklet etc. We told him about this painting and the cover we have now is inspired by it.
Mathias: Yes, by seeing that cover artwork I almost instantly got a flow of inspiration through me. I wrote the first lyrics based on that flow within a couple of days. The rest of the artwork is then inspired upon lyrics that I sent to Mr. Bousson. Visually, what were you looking for upon presenting Bousson with the concepts and lyrical themes surrounding the record? Mathias: Definitely looking for something that would tie it all together, so that everything would be a big entity, specifically to have the music, lyrics and art go hand in hand. We weren’t looking for some particular style or objects in the paintings, just simply the overall feeling and mood was of foremost importance this time.
Bousson has a talent for capturing human emotion through vivid atmospheres, as seen on the truly impeccable gatefold art that he designed for ‘The Dissolution of Mind and Matter’ single. How important was it for you to have the visuals match the grandiose scope of the music? Mathias: I think that the visual part is a big part of the whole experience when you listen to an album for the first time. This is something that is gradually falling into oblivion in the music streaming culture and that I would like to bring back.
Touching on both the cover and the vinyl/physical release illustrations, there’s a strong representation of the transfer of energy that you all set forth with ‘Cosmic World Mother’. There’s plenty of depth among the multilayered design, offering much to dissect and immerse yourself in. Art is of course open to interpretation, but what did you all take from the cover upon seeing the completed piece? Mathias: I really feel like this album is taking you on a journey. Taking you to places beyond time and space to become one with the all-cosmic energy. We’re certain that the art will introduce your music to many who have yet to experience ...And Oceans black metal. Do you recall some album covers throughout history that made you pickup a record or engage with it in a different manner? Timo: Covers were important back in the day when you were browsing at the record store. That cover was a decision maker for buying the album or not. For example ‘Reek of Putrefaction’ by Carcass, haha… how could you pass that? Venom's ‘Welcome to Hell’ and ‘Black Metal’ or early Slayer records as well.
Mathias: It always took a good album cover to pick it up! And it still does. I still browse online the same way as I did back in the days in record stores. I liked the covers that immediately took you somewhere else, for example the old Summoning albums or why not Emperor’s “In the Nightside Eclipse”.
Your return comes at a time where black metal, and the world in general, is at a much different place than it was during ‘Cypher’. Having grown and experienced plenty since then, where are you as a band now compared to your departure? Timo: Yes, we are older that’s for sure. That means that we think more about where we are willing to go and settle, specifically with conditions for gigs/tours etc. I personally like to know quite closely what is happening and planned. I try to follow up on things as closely as possible. I try not taking anything for granted and trusting that everything is happening, even if promised so.
Music wise not that much has changed. I mean, I still have my old classic albums and music in my mind which can affect my composing on a subconscious level. One could say that we are better players and we know how to handle everything in the studio much better. This doesn’t mean that the music would be better automatically, but… haha…
Live shows may not be in our foreseeable future, but music is, and ‘Cosmic World Mother’ transcends whatever medium it’s played on. With the record now circulating on a global scale now, what do you intend for audiences to take from it upon engagement? Mathias: Let’s at least hope it’s a good break from the situation that we live in and will take the mind off of things for a while. As I said before, this album is a journey beyond: beyond all time, space and the struggle right now. Let the “Cosmic World Mother” embrace you for a good 45min!
Stream Cosmic World Mother in full below and order your vinyl copy HERE.