Haunting The Chapel

The Ocean – “The Grand Inquisitor II: Roots & Locusts” (Stereogum Premiere)

Next month German metal “collective” the Ocean release their fifth album Anthropocentric. It follows Heliocentric, which came out earlier this year. They consider it the second installment of a two-part series critiquing Christianity from different angles. From the opening title track onward, the new one’s heavier, denser, rawer, dirtier than Heliocentric. There clean, melodic singing’s not as upfront (and there’s more of the gruff stuff). The interludes involve unending guitar builds instead of pianos and strings. (Though, there are some strings, clean female vocals.) The Ocean won’t stop being the Ocean (i.e. exploratory), but the critique’s growing more intense. (I prefer Anthro to Helio.) If you’re familiar with the band, you know that thematically, they enjoy digging into the conceptual and intellectual. On Anthropocentric the bigger sound integrates even bigger references (e.g. Dostoyevsky). Songwriter and guitarist/electronics whiz Robin Staps explains:

As far as the concepts behind Anthropocentric are concerned, the focus is on man and his place in the universe: at the center, as many fundamental Christians still claim today, or more likely a dust particle in its periphery? All lyrics are circling around this question. Anthropocentric will continue the critique of christianity, inspired by the questions that Dostoyevsky asked and some of the answers that Friedrich Nietzsche and Richard Dawkins gave.

The three songs with the “The Grand Inquisitor” tag were inspired by the chapter of the same name in The Brothers Karamazov. If you haven’t read it and can’t find the Cliff Notes this morning, the band is focusing on the story Ivan tells Alyosha about “a Second Coming of Christ in 16th century Sevilla.” To quote the Ocean-approved summary:

According to this parable, Jesus is arrested by the Catholic inquisition. The grand inquisitor who interrogates Jesus casts a new light on the legend of the temptation of Christ: he reproaches Jesus with having betrayed humanity and having deprived man of salvation by offering him freedom. The conversation between Ivan and Alyoscha mirrors, to some degree, the conversation between the grand inquisitor and Christ and raises more questions than it answers.

“The Grand Inquisitor II: Roots & Locusts” gives you a bit of all of the above:

The Ocean – “The Grand Inquisitor II: Roots And Locusts”

The tracklist:

01 “Anthropocentric”
02 “The Grand Inquisitor I: Karamazov Baseness”
03 “She was the Universe”
04 “For He that Wavereth…”
05 “The Grand Inquisitor II: Roots & Locusts”
06 “The Grand Inquisitor III: A Tiny Grain of Faith”
07 “Sewers of the Soul”
08 “Wille Zum Untergang”
09 “Heaven TV”
10 “The Almightiness Contradiction”

Anthropocentric is out 11/9 via Metal Blade. You can pre-order it now. It’s the first album that finds all of the core band members helping with songwriting. As far as guests, they’ve kept it to six classical players on the final track.

Tags: The Ocean