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The Weight Of Oceans

Spinefarm (2012)
Rating: 8/10

Every now and then you come across bands who spark your interest in a special way. Their debut may have its obvious flaws, their sophomore effort likewise, but you can still sense that they have the intangibles to put forth a killer album. To be blunt, I’m talking about bands that have obvious talent beyond what we usually hear. In Mourning from Dalarna, Sweden is one of those bands. Their 2008 debut, Shrouded Divine, had some great progressive death metal-cuts in the vein of Opeth and the like, while 2010’s Monolith showed some serious growth and a more mature sound with better songwriting, production and execution. In Mourning have been working hard for over a decade now and prior to this album, they really had set themselves up for a release that knocks the proverbial ball out of the park.

Given that the band are from Sweden, along with the fact that they play a type of music that blends death metal, progressive music and at times dabble in sounds reminiscent of the Finnish doom scene, there have been plenty of comparisons to Opeth. Sometimes it is just, sometimes it is forced and contrived but after all we as people will always be compared to those that came before us. On Monolith, In Mourning moved away from a sound that could be compared to Opeth and stood firmly on their own and more importantly started to sound like themselves. The term “finding their voice” is sometimes thrown around casually, but in the case of In Mourning it was truly justified.

So what is new and different about their new album The Weight Of Oceans? Fans of the band will notice that while most of their key components are still in place, there are subtle changes to be found. For example, there are traces of post-rock influences (‘Colossus’), a lot more guitar solos, as well as the black metal-esque scream being used more often. The guitar sound is a lot crispier and with more bite than on previous albums, giving a more defined texture to the heavy riffing. The playing definitely sounds tighter too, and when you employ three guitarists like In Mourning do, texture, definition and tightness is everything.

As with all music created, flow and ebb is everything. In the case of In Mourning, I’m referring to the mixture between heavy, brutal passages and the more melodic, acoustic / clean sections. Without this mixture they are a much lesser band, because when they go on extended riffing passages they occasionally come off as a second-rate death metal band. Now, we need not worry because nothing suggests they will try to go full-on death metal on a future release, but it is important to note how key the balancing of the light and dark is to In Mourning. What is even more important to note is how incredibly well they do it.

For the first time in their recording career, the band have tried their hands at a ballad, dubbed ‘Celestial Tear’. Placed as the fourth track, it works as a nice break between the first and second third of the album (there’s another interlude-type piece later on) and conveys a beautiful, melancholic and dark mood. Fittingly enough it is followed by the riffiest song on the album, ‘Convergence’.

Virtually all songs on this album take you on a ride that will include death metal (accompanied by Tobias Netzell’s beautiful deep growl), odd time signatures anchored by drummer Christian Netzell and bass player Pierre Stam, as well as great interplay and sometimes heavily effect-laden guitar work by Tobias Netzell, Tim Nedergård and Björn Pettersson. In terms of guitar work, this album cannot be overstated. Perhaps it’s the three guitars allowing them to stretch out with more interesting and varied arrangements, but either way you look at it this is three guitars used the right way (hello Iron Maiden). How competent these guys are at writing, arranging and executing ideas is especially apparent when a section is in the build-up towards a more bombastic part.

With The Weight of Oceans I have but one problem: it is a tad too long. Upon my initial listenings, I felt that it was front-loaded. In other words, the best songs were in the first half or so of the album and that the quality tailed off shortly thereafter. But when listening to the later, individual songs taken out from their context, I concluded that they are all very good songs. However, I believe The Weight Of Oceans would have been better and had more impact if it’d been ten minutes or so shorter. It is simply a case of too much of a good thing (this is possible, ask any addict). This is not exactly a new phenomenon, and albums clocking in over an hour in length are becoming more the norm than exception. It is just too bad that a potential corker of an album is somewhat dragged down by its own “weight”.

Even though it is a bit on the chubby side, The Weight Of Oceans is a very good album. The talent and ability is plain for all to hear and maybe, just maybe, the next album is the one where In Mourning put it all together. For fans of progressive metal, death and doom, this is compulsory listening.

Petter Carnbro

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