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In Mourning - Afterglow - 87%

Silicon Messiah, August 31st, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, Digital, Agonia Records

It has taken Swedish born oceanic metallers In Mourning, four years to release a sequel to the well received (and equally good) The Weight Of Oceans (2012). Four, it shall be proven, well used years, and well worth waiting - even though my ears met the band first time somewhere in between. Gone are the gothic days of the monolithic black lodge; Afterglow evolves what The Weight Of Oceans started, and the indigo tinted atmosphere it embodied. The successor at hand paints with a broad brush and pale, burning colours, but leaves behind a strong impression through a variety of intense songs. There may only be seven of them, but they captivate with great passion, and remain concise enough to stay true to themselves and what they are about. They do not float and drift off, neither in length nor size; every minute, every sensation, every emotion is justified.

From the aggressively hypnotic opener ‘Fire And Ocean’ with its swarming lead guitars and massive feel, to the gothic and doom reminiscent title track that closes the album. There, and in between the entirety; through the blistering solos and emotive lead work, alongside Pierre Stam’s monumental bass lines, lies In Mourning’s strongest and most immersive album to date. Not quite as complex as its predecessor, but with its best qualities developed, bloomed. The first half of Afterglow is slightly stronger than the second half, but that’s not saying there are any massive flaws on the latter half.

‘The Lighthouse Keeper’ doesn’t draw you in quite like opener ‘Fire And Ocean’ or monstrous ‘The Grinning Mist’, but is still a relatively strong show off in the power of the triple axe and the massiveness of soulful death metal - especially if you start comparing it with In Mourning’s own first two decidedly less death rooted albums. Alongside that, the haunting instrumental part ending the finest track on here, ‘Ashen Crown’, is among the most awesome thing ever heard on a death metal album. Or any album.

Tobias Netzell isn’t only one of three guitarists (the other two being Björn Petterson and Tim Nedergård), but also the vocalist since In Mourning’s beginnings in 2000. Thanks through his eloquent voice and deep growls, no small part of the sound is at his command. In Mourning’s fingertip feeling for creating and evolving every element to an emotive monster, carrying both individual impact, and power as part of a larger whole, depend in large (but not entirely!) on his sense of mystique and haunting touch. The vocals’ place in the mix - not quite as centered and highlighted as is common - emphasizes the depths that Netzell personify.

That’s not to say he’s the only bearing point; it’s decidedly difficult to point at any part of the music which is not needed. Rhythm sections that embody the burning relentlessness of the deep in the monstrous riffs and the heavy mid tempo action scattered throughout the album, placed alongside the flowing leads teeming with a melancholy epic feel, and the slow build up of long songs that demand the listener’s entire attention not to wither. They are all part of something very powerful. Give them the attention they require, and they in turn give one of the grandest and immersive musical experiences of this year. What the ocean swallows, it can also give back. The question is, in what form, and in what thought.

Standout tracks: Ashen Crown, Fire And Ocean, The Call To Orion