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Portait Of A Black Parasite - 95%

Altisir, May 25th, 2008

In Mourning's Shrouded Divine comes as a shock for a few reasons: it's a breath of fresh air, it's an incredible, unique listen that doesn't get old no matter how many times you play it, and it's all that while being a debut. What we have here isn't just another upstarting Opeth clone - indeed, In Mourning are far from it. While there's definitely certain similarities, In Mourning carve a name for themselves in the Progressive Metal scene with this stunning and spectacular debut.

The first thing noticed upon listening to Shrouded Divine, is that nothing else sounds quite like them. Sure, plenty of bands mix melody with doom/death riffs, but not in the same sense and style as In Mourning. The riffs themselves are often simple, but are utilized in such a way to make it seem not the case, and is done so brilliantly. They are never boring, nor generic sounding, and will more often than not become immediately stuck in your head after the first listen.

Each song is unique - that in itself is enough to merit this album a high mark. There are no fillers to be had, and each song offers something that sets it apart from the rest. For instance, In The Failing Hour's chorus, By Others Considered's great acoustic break, The Black Lodge's amazing intro, and so forth. No song sounds the same, yet not to the point where coherency is lost - in fact, it's the exact opposite. This album is incredibly solid for being so diverse. Another point that must be made is the fact that it never ceases to be a fresh listen. On the first listen, you're rewarded with a sense of satisfaction at hearing overall good music. Upon further listens, however, it only gets better and better. Structures and riffs become more clear, and intelligent subtleties show themselves, only furthering the musical experience. Again, for this alone it would get a good mark.

There is something else Shrouded Divine possesses that isn't common within Progressive Metal, or metal in general beyond Black or straight-up Doom Metal: atmosphere. In Mourning manage to create an almost ephemeral and dreamlike atmosphere surrounding the music, most notably on tracks such as In The Failing Hour and The Black Lodge. The vocals are worth mentioning as well. Deep growls of the Akerfeldt sort are mixed with screams not unlike that found often in Melodic Death Metal, and, in the rare instance they appear, the clean vocals are a great addition.

This is an album of sophomore or even peak quality, which makes it so great as a debut. Already it is one of the best albums of '08, and that's saying something. By no means is it perfect (is any album?), but it's flaws are few and far between. This is definitely a band to be watching, for if they can top this album with a future release, then they truly deserve a spot amongst the Progressive Metal masters. In total, this an album worth getting by any means possible, and without hesitation.