...And Oceans

Dynamic Gallery of Thoughts/The Symmetry of 1 - The Circle of 0

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This reissue for ...And Oceans' new home at Century Media compiles two earlier Season of Mist releases, Dynamic Gallery of Thoughts and Symmetry of 1 -- The Circle of O. Arriving a year apart in 1998 and 1999, the albums established the Finnish outfit's affinity for mixing symphonic black metal with elements of prog, thrash, and their own idiosyncratic world view. Dominated by soaring synths and the tortured vocals of K-2T4-S, Dynamic Gallery is pretty straightforward for the genre, but offers some powerful interplay between the melodies and the staccato chaos of the songs' bottom end. "Samtal Med Tankar -- Halo of Words" is a standout, as is the spectacular closing number "Kärsimyksien Vaaleat Kädet." Symmetry of 1 is presented in its limited-edition format, which includes seven bonus tracks. A slightly more focused album than its predecessor, it occasionally suggests American-style aggro-metal, if the genre was left to stew in Dante's third ring and the three-headed dog Cerberus played lead guitar. This is pure coincidence, as the chasm separating ...And Oceans and Linkin Park is wider than the River Styx. Still, the moments of relative brevity in "The Black Vagabond and the Swan of Two Heads" are worth noting.

It's unfortunate that neither album was remastered, as the sound quality throughout is pretty shoddy, especially in comparison to the bonus tracks, which feature much better production. Musically, they move away from the black metal tropes of their counterparts and into darkly ambient territory. The moody synths and evocative programming (especially on "Mental Traffic" and "Playground") foreshadow the unholy marriage of industrial, symphonic metal, and grindcore that would typify ...And Oceans' 2002 release Cypher.

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