5 Silhouettes, their backlit bodies moving frenetically in front of the monstrous LED lighting rigs, flashing synchronized to every little change in the music: watching THE OCEAN perform live is an experience. The videos, the lighting and more than anything, the music – orchestral, dense and epic – all contribute to that certain atmosphere that sets THE OCEAN apart from most of their peers in the realm of modern day’s heavy music. The lynch-esque play with darkness and dynamics make it easy for the listener to get lost in the dismal oceanic spheres.
The band originated in 2002, when mainman Robin Staps leased the basement of a former aluminum factory from World War II in the heart of Berlin-Kreuzberg. After a few weeks of daily construction work, “Oceanland” was born – a large underground complex of recording studio and sleeping rooms, where many members of THE OCEAN would spend the bigger part of the upcoming few years of their lives. The band’s live show was conceptualized and improved here, and over the years, a collective of musicians from classical as well as rock music backgrounds formed around Staps. Four albums were recorded at Oceanland, before the band was evicted from the place in 2008.
It’s pointless to try to recall every past member of The Ocean. There must have been about 30-40 in total. Nobody remembers all of them. Some may have died or sunk into alcoholism, others may still be alive but have just mysteriously disappeared at some point, even during tours…
It’s not hard to see why when you try to imagine the conditions of the band’s first tours. I remember attending their show at an anarchist’s trailer park in Osnabrück, Germany, on a grim February night in 2002. One of them crushed his ankle when his leg got stuck between 2 planks of the pallet-stage in the non-heated tent. The 12 punks in the audience didn’t give a shit. After the show, one of them was so drunk that he fell asleep only a few inches next to the campfire outside and almost burnt to death.
I remember a show in Torun, Poland, with an audience attendance of two people, one of them being the bar owner… I remember waking up in a 20m2-room with 15 other people, next to a drunk ex-band member who had pissed all over himself, and myself, while we had both been asleep…
Despite all these initial hardships and the ever-changing lineup, The Ocean Collective have released 5 critically acclaimed studio albums over the course of the past 6 years. Praise of their 80 minutes concept-opus “Precambrian” (2007) spread like wildfire in the community: “Epic in scope and flawless in execution, ‘Precambrian’ reinforces The Ocean as one of the most exciting names in modern heavy music. Behold mind-blowing metal on a wagnerian scale”, ROCK SOUND (UK) cheered. “Ambitious and epic, dense and orchestral, the latest album from Germany’s premier thinking man’s metal collective The Ocean features a dizzying array of musical and vocal styles, from Mastodonian prog jags and Fear Factory jackhammer blasts to ethereal electronics and florid classical instrumentations”,AMP (USA) added, and DECIBEL (USA) found the album to be “…engrossing to the point where words don’t necessarily matter. The Ocean do for earth science class what Mastodon did for Melville: make learning brutal”.
After more than 500 shows all over the world, supporting bands like OPETH, ANATHEMA, THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, CULT OF LUNA and ISIS and successful headlining tours in Europe and the US, the addition of vocalist Loïc Rossetti marks the final step in a recent development within the band: after 8 years of existence, THE OCEAN has transformed from a collective into a band. „The people I am working with now are the people I have always been looking for, and naturally, everyone else is much more involved than ever before”, comments Staps.
Rossetti replaces Nico Webers, who joined War From A Harlot’s Mouth, and Mike Pilat, who left the band because he did not want to let touring be an integral part of his life anymore. However, the collective is not dead. As a matter of fact, 2009 album „Heliocentric“ featured the largest number of additional musicians to date, mainly classical players. With 4 Swiss band members, THE OCEAN has found a new home in the highest city of Europe, La-Chaux-de-Fonds – although Staps still lives in Berlin.
The Ocean released their opus magnum in 2010 with the separately-released double-album „Heliocentric“ (April 2010) and “Anthropocentric“ (November 2010). This enormous conceptual effort took almost 2 years to be completed. From a lyrical and artistic point of view, the albums represent a fundamental and philosophical critique of Christianity. Both albums scored rave reviews all over the world, including „album of the month“ in Metal Hammer Germany, Italy and Greece and a cover feature on the December- issue of Metal Hammer UK / Subterranea. AMG Magazine (US) stated that “This is the most forward-thinking statement by the Ocean yet, and stands as the most seamlessly integrated and consistent recording they’ve issued to date”, and Rock Sound (UK) found the album to be “Luxurious, tectonic, ingenious, calculated, charismatic, enterprising, dextrous, inventive, unrestrained, fascinating and poignant. If all this doesn’t convince you to at least check them out, then seriously, fuck off.” – Rock Sound (UK), 9/10
In 2011 THE OCEAN started off with a 3-months tour, first supporting BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME in the US and Canada, then headlining Europe as part of FRICTION TOUR with RED FANG and INTRONAUT. They played most major European summer festivals including Hellfest (France), Dour (Belgium), Summer Breeze (Germany), Greenfield (Switzerland), Metal Camp (Slovenia), VNV (Switzerland) and many more. In September and October 2011, the band toured China and Hongkong for the first time, and in October and November, they returned to the US to support DEVIN TOWNSEND, just before yet another headlining tour focussing on the UK, France and Switzerland. 2012 saw THE OCEAN embark on a one-month-tour of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The massive „Heliocentric / Anthropocentric“ world tour finally concluded with dates in Thailand and a headlining tour of Australia in May 2012.
The band is currently busy working on new material for the upcoming album and finishing the 3xDVD „Collective Oblivion“ which is due for an early 2013 release on Metal Blade.