Friday, August 12, 2016
In the Woods - "Pure"
Former members of Green Carnation formed this black metal band back in 1991,so these guys go back to the first wave of Norwegian black metal, though they have always been more experimental than the bulk of those bands holding more in common with countrymen like Emperor and Ulver. There is a strong rock drive to the opening track, though harsh vocals haunt the fringes of the song, the delivery is predominately sung. Their are some powerful accents that add a heavier dynamic to what they do. This gives them more heft than say recent Enslaved, the song ends with vocals harmonizing over a piano line they might bring Opeth to mind.
"Blue Oceans Rise" is slower and darker. The clean sung vocals emote in a manner not unlike My Dying Bride and the tempo further justifies this comparison, even as the double bass rolls in behind the chugged guitar. They are drifting into a more melodic death metal direction on "Devils at the Door". I like the fact this song has so much room to breathe and some dynamic range. The atmosphere sits well with the more dramatic swells , even in with the clean vocals. The sung stay a in somewhat depressed baritone. Some of the thunder is traded for a more solemn mood on " the Recalcitrant Protagonist". Once again we find them set to more of a doom pacing going into "the Cave of Dreams" though it picks up into more of mid-paced tempo. The harsh vocals at this point are few and far between. There is a bridge where it gets heavier, but generally the songs are more focused on having the room to explore this morose landscape. Here they still manage to cover a lot of ground in under six minutes.
"Cult of Shining Stars" bathes in it's own atmosphere, before coming to life with a heavy march. In many ways this album is similar to Borknagar. These songs were created by musicians with much heavier pasts, but have allowed them let their maturity shine through. It does rise from it's languor into a more classic metal chug. "Toward the Black Surreal" has it's heavier peaks, but retains the tone set earlier in the album that puts this closer to doom than black metal. It's a very interesting middle of the road. When they lock in for the syncopated chugs midway it's pretty powerful moment and an even more daring choice to ebb back down into a melodic section after this. This might make this one my favorite song on the album.
There is more of a space prog feel to "Transmission KRS", which adds to the dynamic range of the album as a whole, but not something that would seem like a song if it randomly cropped up on shuffle mode, so while I would write it off as more of an interlude, it's almost 11 minutes long so they are clearly committed to it. "This Dark Dream" feels like My Dying Bride colliding with Iced Earth. So it's pretty potent. The final song "Mystery of the Constellations" treads in similar waters to water we have heard thus for from the return of In the Woods. I'll give this album a 9. It's very solid, fans of the more recent My Dying Bride or Amorphis might dig this more than older fans who just them to return to the black metal of 91, because we are not in that part of the woods any more.