Article by: Leanne Ridgeway
On September 25th, THE OCEAN will release their eighth full-length, ‘Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic‘, via Metal Blade Records (CD / digital) and the band’s own Pelagic Records (vinyl). In 2018, THE OCEAN released ‘Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic‘ – the first half of a sprawling, but superbly cohesive paleontology concept album. Now, the group is ready to release the eagerly-awaited concluding parts of the Phanerozoic journey.
For a preview of ‘Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic‘, a video for the new single “Oligocene” (filmed by band members Loic Rossetti, David Ahfeldt, and Robin Staps, plus edited and animated by Craig Murray) can be viewed at the end of this article. The video was shot in the Aragats mountains in Armenia, during the band’s “Siberian Traps” tour in the summer of 2019, which brought them to Russia, Kazachstan, Armenia, Georgia, and Japan.
“We found this place by accident: the dilapidated ruins of a soviet observatory & research station for cosmic radiation,” comments guitarist and founding member Robin Staps. “The building itself looked like a spaceship that had crash-landed up high in the mountains, but there were lots of interesting structures scattered across the landscape: concrete cubes, underground tunnels, rusted machinery, fallen power poles and watchtowers. It all looked like taken straight out of Andrej Tarkovsky’s ‘Stalker’ movie,” concludes Staps, referring to the ingenious classic that was also the backbone of The Ocean’s 2013 album ‘Pelagial‘.
The instrumental track was written by drummer Paul Seidel, but recorded with synth player Peter Voigtmann on drums. It serves as a transitional track from the busy and heavy first half of the record (Mesozoic) into the more relaxed, spacious and cold ambient vibes prevailing on the second half of the record (Cenozoic). For a preview of the ‘Mesozoic‘ part of the album, the previously released track, “Jurassic | Cretaceous” (featuring Katatonia’s Jonas Renkse), can also be heard below in audio via Bandcamp, along with pre-ordering options for ‘Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic‘.
02. Jurassic | Cretaceous
06. Miocene | Pliocene
Widely hailed as their finest work to date, ‘Phanerozoic I‘ brimmed with moments of wide-eyed melodic brilliance, alongside the expected warping and weaving of post-metal conventions. “The first part of ‘Phanerozoic’ really is a ‘no-regrets’ album, which is quite rare,” says guitarist Robin Staps. “Maybe even the first time I can ever say that.“
In contrast with the compositional directness of ‘Phanerozoic I‘, the new album – ‘Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic‘ – is a vastly more progressive and perverse piece of work. “‘Phanerozoic II’ is more experimental, more eclectic in musical style and direction, and more varied in terms of tempos, beats, guitar work and the use of electronics,” notes Staps. “This was an intentional choice: we wanted Part I to feel rather streamlined and to have a strong cohesion between the individual songs. We wanted to create a certain vibe to linger from the first until the last note throughout the whole record. We kept the weirder, more daring and more progressive material for Part II.“
Tracked in Iceland, Spain, and Germany and produced by esteemed studio guru Jens Bogren, ‘Phanerozoic II‘ is underpinned by some of the most imaginative and challenging music that THE OCEAN – completed by drummer Paul Seidel, keyboard maestro Peter Voigtmann, bassist Mattias Hagerstrand, and guitarist David Ramis Åhfeldt – have made yet. Divided into two sections – Mesozoic and Cenozoic – the album once again showcases the detail and depth that have become two of THE OCEAN‘s most enduring trademarks. While ostensibly delving into the extraordinary realities of the Earth’s shifting temporal tides, Staps and his comrades have long drawn hazy parallels between their chosen subjects and the emotional experiences that their music strives to convey. ‘Phanerozoic II‘ is essentially an album about time, with some very poignant and pointed allusions to the modern world woven into the new music’s spiritual fabric.
Staps explains, “The outcome is a record that is a real journey. It starts in one place, and concludes in a totally different place. In a way, it relates to 2013’s ‘Pelagial’, which was similar in that it was also a journey: but a more guided, focused and predictable one. ‘Phanerozoic II’ on the other hand is closer to the experience of free fall.“
– deluxe edition CD (tri-fold digipak)
– instrumental CD (remus spine digipak w/ UV gloss)
– box set completion (both vocal and instrumental versions) bundles
* exclusive vinyl and various bundles with shirts and merch items, plus digital options also available
Pre-order various options [link].
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Find THE OCEAN 2021 tour information below the video for “Oligocene“.
The Ocean Tour Dates 2021
“This tour has been planned for a long time already and despite the unprecedented situation we’re all currently going through, we decided to announce it and put tickets on sale. We hope that this will serve as a strong positive statement for bands, promoters and music fans alike.
As this develops, we have to assess, analyse and make the right decisions for everyone involved. The tour going ahead in early 2021 relies on many elements to fall into place, and if it can’t go ahead, then we have a backup routing in place already for later in the year, and all tickets purchased for this tour will be transferrable to that.
Be assured that we will keep assessing this situation as we head later into 2020, and be in communication with everyone. Much love and we hope to see you guys out there in January!”
Jan. 7 – Wiesbaden, Germany – Schlachthof
Jan. 8 – Colmar, France – Grillen
Jan. 9 – Paris, France – La Machine
Jan. 10 – Nantes, France – Ferrailleur
Jan. 11 – Toulouse, France – Le Rex
Jan. 12 – Bilbao, Spain – Stage Live
Jan. 13 – Lisbon, Portugal – LAV
Jan. 14 – Madrid, Spain – Caracol
Jan. 15 – Murcia, Spain – Gamma
Jan. 16 – Barcelona, Spain – Boveda
Jan. 17 – Bordeaux, France – Krakatoa
Jan. 18 – Lyon, France – CCO
Jan. 19 – Fribourg, Switzerland – Fri-Son
Jan. 20 – Lucerne, Switzerland – Sedel
Jan. 21 – Vienna, Austria – Viper Room
Jan. 22 – Prague, Czech Republic – Nova Chelmnice
Jan. 23 – Berlin, Germany – Festsaal
Jan. 25 – Copenhagen, Denmark – Pumpehuset
Jan. 26 – Hamburg, Germany – Bahnhof Pauli
Jan. 27 – Leipzig, Germany – Conne Island
Jan. 28 – Munich, Germany – Backstage
Jan. 29 – Essen, Germany – Zeche Carl
Jan. 30 – Osnabruck, Germany – Kleine Freiheit
Jan. 31 – Zwolle, Netherlands – Hedon
Feb. 01 – Cologne, Germany – Volta
Feb. 02 – Brussels, Belgium – Botanique
Feb. 03 – Utrecht, Netherlands – De Helling
Feb. 04 – Bristol, UK – The Fleece
Feb. 05 – Glasgow, UK – Slay
Feb. 06 – Manchester, UK – Club Academy
Feb. 07 – London, UK – 229
Feb. 08 – Brighton, UK – Patterns