Berlin-based the Ocean (also known as the Ocean Collective) are a forward-thinking extreme music ensemble led by founder, guitarist, composer, and conceptualist Robin Staps. Their sound is a hybrid comprised of progressive, atmospheric sludge, doom metal, and even post-hardcore. Almost all of their music is conceptual, obsessed with geologic, prehistoric, and philosophical themes -- sonically, much of it is ferocious in execution, weaving organic and electronic sounds and samples. With an ever-changing lineup of various on- and off-stage musicians and visual artists, the relentlessly touring group have become well-known for their immense, mind-expanding live shows. Beginning in 2005, their releases were issued by Metal Blade in the U.S. and their own Pelagic label in Europe. 2007's Precambrian is musically brutal and intellectually brainy; its songs are steeped in arcane and scientific knowledge of the Earth's geology. In 2010, the group issued two linked, critically acclaimed albums, Heliocentric and Anthropocentric. In 2013, Pelagial shifted direction due to its spiraling progressive metal architecture. 2018's Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic marked the first of two distinct sequels to Precambrian.
The Ocean entered the studio in February 2018 and began recording the two-part Phanerozoic. Based on the eon that succeeded the Precambrian supereon and spanning a 500-million-year period leading to the present day, it witnessed the evolution and diversification of plant and animal life on Earth, and the partial destruction of it during five mass extinction events. Conceptually and musically, the double-length Phanerozoic marked the band's first look back; the missing link between the albums Precambrian and Heliocentric/Anthropocentric, it was crafted as a direct sequel to the former. Recorded and mixed by Jens Bogren, the set's first single, "Devonian," also featured Katatonia's Jonas Renkse on lead vocals. Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic appeared in November 2018. Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic was due for release in the fall of 2019, but was pushed back a year. In July 2020, the single "Jurassic | Cretaceous" was released, featuring a return vocal appearance form Katatonia's Renkse. The full-length appeared from Metal Blade in September 2020, alongside a separate release of instrumental versions from the band's own label, Pelagic.