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Prog is a genre that I often steer clear of, simply because everything seems too long-winded and it often appears to me that the band spend huge amounts of unnecessary time building up to exactly what the listener has been after from the start. In Mourning fall into the same trap, as while the climax is always incredible, there are always too many minutes of simplistic chugging without much happening before things get there. At times they do pull it off, like the opener 'Colossus', where everything works well to make it build up to the chorus every time it goes through a verse. But it doesn't always happen like that for the duration of The Weight of Oceans.
Besides the songs being overly long and often spending too long building up, there isn't really anything I can complain about. The drumming is tight and solid, and even if not always spectacular it does support the rest of the band well. The doom metal vibe that this album has probably explains the lack of spectacular moments, and the often slow pace may be the reason for this. The vocals are quite varied as far as growls go, from a low thunder that would impress even Johan Hegg to a higher sort of shriek that normally would be an ear-sore, but don't really bother me here. There are also some cleans in there, courtesy of Celestial Tear, which are not bad but equally nothing spectacular.
The solid work from those two parts of the band though are pretty much forgotten when the guitar work comes into effect. Granted, it takes its time unlike the other parts, and we're forced to listen through a whole load of generic chugs and slow, doomy riffs in order to get to the point that we're actually interested in, but the thing is that we know the climax is going to be that good that we are willing to put up with the mediocre parts. There is a very melancholic feeling that the guitar work oozes, and it's done so well that it hooked me right from the start. Perhaps the band are fortunate that I stuck with them long enough to hear what they really have to offer, but they do have a talent for crafting emotional songs like no one else I've ever heard when they actually get going.
The thing that really stops this album from becoming an all-time great is that the songs all stick around too long. They aren't a band that can make such long songs so intricate and alluring for their entire duration, and when you've only got eight songs and a short instrumental, an hour's run-time is extremely long and drawn-out. In Mourning are clearly capable of producing the goods and they can make very simple riffing patterns sound like something so much more than that, but it should also be noted that maybe only half of this album actually comprises of them doing so. If only the sections of needless chugging that add nothing were removed, this album would be drastically better.
What seems to be an oriental version of The Great Old One graces the cover of this album, a work of the mighty Necrolord, though not one of my favorites from him. Yet I do feel this image really fits the album, not because of its maritime premise, but because it reinforces my belief that here lies a great force of potential that could be unleashed to devastating effect… yet it simply stays there, static, contemplating its own possibilities. This is the second album I experience from In Mourning, the first one being their sophomore Monolith, from two years ago. I must confess I was not impressed by their “Opethy” brand of progressive death/doom, founding it generally commonplace, most of its compositions hiding minor whirlwinds of grandeur amongst vast oceans of dreariness. For their third album, attractively titled The Weight of Oceans, things haven’t changed much, though I feel it is marginally more consistent and interesting than its predecessor.
One of the main problems I find here is that the riffs, which aren’t particularly exciting, creative or remarkable, are repeated ad nauseam throughout many sections of the album. Therefore most songs feel really stretched out, to quote Bilbo Baggins, “like butter scraped over too much bread”. The placid, melancholic melodies on top of the blunt rhythmic riffage are better, but even those feel a bit overused. And so we face another flaw here: songs are too damn long! As a guy who enjoys a great deal of what the progressive rock and metal realms have to offer, I have no problem in enjoying 20-minute suites and never-ending tracks… as long as they deliver the goods for their whole duration. Most tunes here have entire segments they could do without, and others that could be trimmed a lot. It’s a feature displayed by most bands within this style, but that’s no excuse for not counting it as a downside. Check out some Burzum for examples of long compositions with little variation and a reduced array of riffs that end up being brilliant and memorable. And while there’s plenty of variation here, covering a wide range of emotional soundscapes, the results are not that enticing.
It’s a shame really, because production is top-notch, clear and bodacious, and the guys clearly have talent and they’ve put a lot of effort into the compositions, even though I feel they’re overlong. Ironically, the track in which I think they almost nailed it is nine-minute opener “Colossus”, the longest of the bunch. It slowly builds up and stirs, like the leviathan on the cover uncurling from its millennial slumber. It’s fairly fulfilling, packing contemplative melodies and solid riffing. In particular, I find the chorus to be quite pleasing and catchy, probably the highlight of the album. But then again, it’s far from perfect, suffering the same ill than its shorter peers, dragging a bit in some parts. “A Vow to Conquer the Ocean” starts interestingly, with a faster and meatier complexion, but it sadly ceases to flex its muscles and becomes increasingly dull ‘til it reaches total failure with that quasi-metalcore chugging around the five-minute mark. It regains strength at the end, but damage’s already been made. “From a Tidal Sleep” is also a multi-section track, packing varied changes in tempo and atmosphere, yet that again translates into an uneven quality.
Another highlight is the mournful ballad “Celestial Tear”. It’s a more cohesive piece than the others and a break of sorts in the album; it certainly wouldn’t be out of place in a Steven Wilson project (Porcupine Tree, Storm Corrosion or whatnot). It’s the less metallic song here but definitely one of top ones. After that, the album carries on in the same irregular fashion. “Convergence” could be an Amon Amarth/Insomnium hybrid, being fast, muscular and full at first, then delving into sad organ-like waves of melody and harmonized guitars, and going back and forth between both styles several times with mixed results. Then “Sirens”, a melancholic if disposable piano interlude, precedes the last winner here, “Isle of Solace”. Just under five minutes long, it’s sweet, dynamic and more to the point, a structure that could have been applied to the rest of the tunes to great avail, I think. It reminds me of the latest Dark Tranquility material (when it’s good). I find the remaining of the album to be rather uneventful, making me wanna listen to something else.
If you are a fan of Opeth and don’t mind listening similar bands which offer not much apart from that, then this might be for you. However I would recommend, to go no further, the latest Barren Earth album, also from this year. It’s a fairly similar progressive death/doom style, perhaps more psychedelic and seventies-flavored, but overall better. And if you are more into the melodeath aesthetics of this album then you MUST check out the latest from Austrialian masters Be’lakor. That’s a helluva lecture on how to successfully compose long, multi-part, ambitious melodeath and an album you should not let past your radar. I might gave it a rave review sometime...
In Mourning burst on the scene in 2008 with their acclaimed debut Shrouded Divine. Arriving just in the wake of what is accepted to be Opeth's descent into mediocrity, In Mourning has been praised as the new Opeth.
I have to ask: what the hell? Opeth play a very distinctive style that is not easily replicated without being a complete clone band. Furthermore, In Mourning is not nearly as technical or diverse as Opeth is. The main progressive quality of this band is their song flow, which does remind of Opeth somewhat. The quality of the music, and riffs in particular, reminds much more of various melodic death metal bands than Opeth, honestly. Furthermore, In Mourning is more aggressive than Opeth typically is, and they don't delve into acoustic progressive rock sections the way Opeth does (rather, their slow sections bring to mind something akin to Swallow the Sun instead). Though they do delve into very progressive rhythms at times, I believe Shrouded Divine is the only album that can rightfully be compared to Opeth. And even then... not really. However, between the song flow and occasionally progressive rhythms, I can definitely see an Opeth comparison. I would presume Opeth to be an influence for this band, certainly.
I view In Mourning to essentially be a unification of Insomnium's atmosphere and melodies, Amon Amarth's anger, and Opeth's progressiveness - where each of these elements is dumbed down for the sake of coalescing seamlessly with the others. This has not changed, but I find the atmosphere of past albums has been emphasized in The Weight of Oceans. This makes the entire album feel more moody, rather than angry like their past outputs. This is by no means a negative thing; rather, I find it fits in well and gives the album an appeal that their past two releases didn't quite have for me. Opener "Colossus" represents this perfectly, showcasing some beautiful melodic structures and multiple moody solos. As does "Celestial Tear," a ballad of sorts that... somewhat reminds of an Opeth ballad, to be honest. Though it's a little more groovy than Opeth ballads usually are.
The album's most glaring flaw is the length to each track. There's 9 tracks - 1 of them being a short interlude at less than 2 minutes long - and the album still exceeds the hour mark. While this is progressive melodic death metal, this is still melodic death metal. They seem to forget that melodeath is usually rather hooky, and they abandon the catchiness of melodeath for the sake of being long and dramatic at times. To put it simply: almost every song on the album overstays its welcome. I am fine with long songs and quite adore Opeth, but In Mourning is not technical or varied enough to pull it off. Instead, the songs are stretched thin through material that almost falls into doom metal territory, feeling slow and sludgey rather than technical. "Convergence" is the biggest offender; just over 8 and a half minutes, the song is extended through unnecessarily long slow parts and could've used being cut down by 2 minutes. Still, the only song past the 5 minute mark that is not overwhelming is, again, "Colossus" (ironically the longest track). Its varied enough to remain interesting, but it's really the moodiness that is absorbing enough I'm unaware of how long the track truly is while listening to it.
The back end of the album is where In Mourning's real progressive influence comes out. Just after the interlude "Sirens," the album kicks off with "Isle of Solace" which features chunky, proggy riffs I actually wouldn't be surprised to hear out of Opeth's more progressive death efforts. That effort flows well into "The Drowning Sun," which features more progressive rhythms, this time joined by melodeathy leads recalling Insomnium once again. "The Drowning Sun" is suceeded by "Voyage of a Wavering Mind" - this entire track goes back to slow and sludgey, ending the progressiveness of the prior two songs with an interesting doom vibe... unfortunately leaving me bored. This one doesn't even exceed 6 minutes, yet I feel its overall appeal would've been greatly enhanced had it been edited down.
What this all comes down to is that In Mourning almost suffers from an identity crisis. They attempt Opeth style song flow, turn Opeth's acoustics into death/doom instead, then unite it all with some Insomnium atmosphere and Dark Tranquillity or, occasionally, Amon Amarth (the anger of past albums has taken more absence with this album) style riffs. The first half of the album builds up on the atmospheric melodeath, while the second half plays a more aggressive progdeath. The identity crisis is very subtle due to how these elements are seamlessly merged, but the end result is a sound that combines several closely related elements without playing on the strengths of any of them to the extent they could. That said, I have no desire to over-criticize this. This is still a solid album that has many strengths of its own: the song flow keeps it from being overly predictable or boring most of the time, and the album is full of really good melodic structures. This is all merged together with a strong "oceanic" theme - lyrically, yes, but musically as well. Tracks like "From a Tidal Sweep" contain melodies that feel like a reckless sea. The album also flows like an ocean tide, from the slow opening groove of "Colossus" to the aggressive peak of "Convergence" to a return to the sludge with "Voyage of a Wavering Mind," the album has a cohesive, sweeping flow. It's a powerful ocean, I will admit; it's just a little too vast.
Here we have the latest release from progressive death metal act In Mourning, and I can say right off the bat that if you were disappointed in the last Opeth full-length then this, is the album for you. Having enjoyed their previous album I was all ears when “The Weight of Oceans” dropped, and it’s definitely worth picking up.
For the uninitiated, In Mourning play a style of progressively tinged Melodic Death Metal. Boasting massive arrangements, and some Swallow the Sun style moments, as well as some truly bad-ass riffs. Drummer Christian Netzell is a particularly good asset to the band, and his style really adds to the magic on “The Weight of Oceans”. Whilst often playing at slower tempo’s he adds a lot in the way of tasteful cymbal usage, and when the speeds increase he unleashes some precise footwork. The guitars flow like a twisting stream, dancing between beautiful cleans, crunching riffs and some superb drawn out octave parts ala Swallow the Sun. The tone is very Progressive Metal, and there are some channels that have a Progressive Rock style twang which helps in giving the album its identity. The guitar playing in itself is stellar, with some wonderful leads, and enough riffs to keep things heavy. The bass is nicely done here too, perfectly in tune with the drums and general rhythm which is exactly what is needed.
The production is ideal for the style, and reminds me of Opeth’s “Deliverance” and “Watershed”. “The Weight of Oceans” kicks of with “Colossus” which is just, well, colossal. The track slowly builds into a stunning melody, before kicking into a solid chug, from here onwards there’s a boat load of excellent melodic moments interspersed with the heavier sections towards the end. “A Vow To Conquer The Ocean” is one of my favourite tracks here, and it wastes little time introducing itself kicking into a stupendous riff from the get go. After having kicked the listener’s ass for a couple of minutes the band drops everything down and breaks into some wonderful clean guitars, this track in particular shows both sides of In Mourning well. “Celestial Tear” is quite frankly an amazing prog ballad, which really showcases singer/ guitarist Tobias Netzell’s clean register.
The first half of the album, as good as it is, mainly serves as a warm up for what’s to come. Kicking off the second half is “Convergence” which I would have to say is my undoubted highlight of the album. Everything I like about In Mourning is displayed in excellent quality here, some of the heaviest riffs coupled with incredible, heart-wrenching melodies, and an insanely cool middle section housing the finest guitar solo on the album. “Isis of Solace” stands as the most furious track on the album, and it really kicks up a fuss, opening up with some well placed blast beats, and housing some of the finer riffs on the album. “The Drowning Sun” is another highlight, and really cooks up some Opeth-style magic.
Overall as you can obviously see I’ve name dropped Swallow the Sun and Opeth quite a bits over this review, and if you’re of a similar wavelength to me regarding the sub-par latest release from the former, or differ in thinking Opeth dropped the ball last year, then this album is going to be your saving grace. A quality release, that whilst maybe a slight overlong, is for the most part great, and I can whole heartedly recommend it to fans of Melodic Death Metal and Progressive Metal.
Originally written for www.metal-observer.com
This is a band which is one the best recent surprises, for me, in the last few months, flourishing from the Scandinavian melodic death metal grounds (one obvious and often-made comparison is to Insomnium's work, though I find In Mourning slightly better at what they do); and especially so with this album, which is, most probably, this group's most solid effort to date. Although their previous works were filled with amazing moments and superb songwriting, especially their first one and widely acclaimed Shrouded Divine, but also with their underrated Monolith (at least for those who, like me, appreciate Melodeath, or whatever style they played then, enough), they have finally arrived at a point in which they've become fully focused as a band, musically and thematically. Focused in a single theme, they may have had, just now, the ideal conditions for working functionally enough as they have now in the creating of a rich, dense 'oceanic' atmosphere. And I must say, now: this rational response absolutely worked for them.
Rational? Well, while their style develops as a natural subdivision of some of melodic death metal's subgenres that are wider and more eclectic, and while they have already developed a really emotional setting for most of their songs, with weeping guitars, intense choruses and cryptic lyrical themes, they have, here, turned to a theme-based unification, that suited quite finely with their musical approach. The 'whole', here, works remarkably, while these sea-settings, moods and themes are intertwined and without losing sight of the main songwriting. All the musicians here work splendidly; they certainly're not too technical or exhibitionists in any way (actually I find this quite pleasant), but they're all competent players and are all there for musicality - you'll hardly find any traces of shredding here, if that needs be said.
"Colossus" opens the album superbly, and is one of its most poignant triumphs; the lengths throughout this whole work are, almost all of them, considerably extended ones, and that's the sort of progressive aspect of their music that's been crafted very naturally over the years, blending with their songs without making it sound or feel too forcefully thrown in. But the greatest gem of this one work is called "A Vow to Conquer the Ocean". It is a truly masterful, direct, strong melodic / progressive death metal song (which, though, really isn't so 'progressive' as far as length is concerned), with a catchy chorus, very climatic harmonic bridges and very harsh - and I'd say even emotional - vocal lines. One hell of a song, no doubt; furthermore, I'd state "Celestial Tear" as a nice metal-ballad, or actually more of a prog-ballad than a metal one. It is fully sang clean, and constitutes a moment which is as dense and 'atmospheric' as this album gets, along with the nicely done if a little unnecessary short interlude "Sirens", nevertheless a fairly worthy moment.
Well, between these nicely-done climatic moments, there's another real epic they present us, "Convergences", filling a gap with a real-metal piece; melodic and very 'moody' guitar lines fill the song with these oceanic sorrows, and the chorus itself is absolutely an intense one, alternating more high-pitched and the growls, which are not perhaps as powerful as the other kinds [of vocal lines], but necessary in the big picture. And, maybe in this song more than in any other moment, I must state the grandiosity and ever-tasteful guitar work of both Björn Pettersson & Tim Nedergård, who in my opinion do presently an AMAZING job of bringing these different sensations that were part of what was proposed as part of what'd make this album so soulful, and all that brings the concept to life. And it does.
The album closes not with masterpieces, not even with great, epic songs - although "The Drowning Sun", another lengthy song, has truly remarkable lyrics and even more so an instrumental, overall, amazingly done work. Nevertheless it never borders the greatness which was achieved by some of the other previous songs, however 'good' or even worthy it may be... but there's a valid closing feel, that surely has its powerful moments, and fits splendidly with the concept in general, with the style they have developed - and it's truly changed a lot - through many years of hard work and earning, finally, a place beneath the sun and through this vast ocean of metal-crap from which they surely have set their mark, a very distinctive one at that.
Highlights: "Colossus"; "A Vow to Conquer the Ocean"; "Convergences".
In Mourning’s third full-length surfaces and is unleashed right on schedule. The band’s ambition and creativity is as ripe as before and the band sets their sites on marine themes. This creates a stronger backbone to the album that was missing on Monolith, but keeps The Weight Of Oceans with a direction and rich atmosphere in mind. Of course, the superb songwriting and hooks illustrate the band’s exemplary ability to remain one of the more gratifying bands across the melodic death and progressive death genres.
With the same crisp, opulent production as their previous two albums, In Mourning take a gamble with an even longer album than before. Despite the average track length increasing, the melodies and riffs remain top-notch and soulful. The one track that sort of goes against these characteristics is the finale, “Voyage Of A Wavering Mind.” This begrudging, slogging beast of a track has a ton of weight to it, with the same cryptic, aquatic atmosphere to endow. The main riff is very simple and hypnotic, but there isn’t the same fervor like the other tracks. This ends up making “Voyage Of A Wavering Mind” the gloomiest and most peculiar track of the bunch. This also makes the song questionable in terms of placement not on the album (though it isn’t hard to argue why it shouldn’t be on the album), but where on the album it was placed. Despite its enjoyability, it’s anti-climactic and abrupt, like the keyboard-instrumental “Sirens”. However, “Sirens” does enough to introduce “Isle Of Solace” while “Voyage Of A Wavering Mind” stands alone (and musically working against the unified concept of the album).
To switch it with basically any other track as the finale (my pick would be “A Vow To Conquer The Ocean”) provides, to varying extents, a much more seamless conclusion to the album. Despite the drawback of real finale, The Weight Of Oceans still has a very strong track order. The openers are resilient as proof in this claim, acting like waves of lavishly textured opuses. They’re certainly some of the best songwriting by the band up to this point, especially “A Vow To Conquer The Ocean” with its floating atmosphere and ghostly bridge. A compelling journey is made when listening to each track; flow like this is earned by lush production and balance between all components of the band. The onslaught of bludgeoning prog riffs, the blubbery bass support (taking the lead to establish an abyssal tone at times), vibrant atmosphere, and crashing drumming establishes dominance and trust in course. The opener, “Colossus”, is the vanguard of this progressive death malevolence, with an immense build-up culminating into a tight tsunami of colliding riffs and harmonies. Netzell’s gasping growls are clear and ferocious as always, with his parched screams and eerie cleans giving such engulfing music more conduits of expression.
Everything comes together to exert powerful emotions and a meaningful experience. In Mourning makes an aquatic-themed album that actually sounds oceanic and otherworldly while retaining their signature sound. Any melodic death fan will love this album, while death and prog fans can enjoy the heavier and more cunning side of the band. Mark up another captivating album by the band to enjoy for a lifetime.