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Mournful oceans - 92%

felipetacla0, June 9th, 2012

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".