After 5 years of touring on Pelagial, the band started recording their 8th studio album in February 2018, split into two volumes to be separately released in 2018 and 2020 respectively, titled Phanerozoic. The Phanerozoic eon succeeded the Precambrian supereon, spanning a 500 millionyear period leading to the present day. It has witnessed the evolution and diversification of plant and animal life on Earth, and the partial destruction of it during 5 mass extinction events. Conceptually and musically, The Ocean’ s Phanerozoic is the missing link between the albums Precambrian and Heliocentric / Anthropocentric.
Guitarist and primary songwriter Robin Staps penned Phanerozoic as he did its predecessors, in seclusion in a house by the ocean. The first volume of the double album Phanerozoic is made up of bleak and heavy songs, boiled down to the essential core of the musical ideas driving them. With analog synths merging with the heavy guitars, the addition of Peter Voigtmann to the band’s ranks has made a marked difference. After years of handling the spectacular lighting design at The Ocean’s live shows, essentially “playing drums on the lighting console every night” as Staps puts it, he now brings a bevy of angry, dystopian sounds to the songs. Phanerozoic also marks the recording debut of bassist Mattias Hägerstrand and drummer Paul Seidel, who both bring their own style and approach to their respective instruments.
As with all of The Ocean’s releases, the music is only one piece of the puzzle. The collective has always been known for lyrics that are poignant and thought-provoking, and Phanerozoic is no exception. The central idea upon which the lyrics are premised is that of ‘eternal recurrence’, “Nietzsche's concept that everything happens over and over again, an infinite amount of times throughout infinite time and space”, Staps explains. “When you look at Earth’s history you find a lot of evidence for this: continents have collided and drifted apart across the oceans and collided again, life nearly disappeared various times but then resurged again... this album is essentially about time, perception of time, and repetition. It is about coming to terms with the fact that there are things in life which will recur and which we cannot change and finding ways of dealing with that”
1. The Cambrian Explosion
2. Cambrian II / Eternal Recurrence
3. Ordovicium / The Glaciation of Gondwana
4. Silurian / Age of Sea Scorpions
5. Devonian / Nascent
6. The Carboniferous Rainforest Collapse
7. Permian / The Great Dying