In the Woods… is a band I have vaguely heard about, but I never really sat down and listened to their well-regarded first three albums. Well the band is back together after a lengthy breakup with their first album in 17 years, and I decided that now is the best time to give these guys a shot. Was deciding to go with their latest release a great jumping in point?
I would have to say right up front, yes this is a very solid album through and through. I wasn’t really sure what I was expecting when I sat down to listen to it, so I was incredibly pleasantly surprised by the opening track Pure and its almost 70s rock style energy. New lead singer James Fogarty has a great deep voice that really complements the music, which always, even on the more upbeat songs, has an almost mournful feeling. The best way I can feel to describe it is progressive metal with some definite doom metal stylings and just a bit of 1970s psychedelic flair. It is a rather unique combination and it immediately gave me encouragement to listen to the rest of this album.
The first five tracks are all excellent pieces that really captivated me, especially the fifth trackThe Cave of Dreams which really seems to encapsulate the band’s style they tried for on this album. It has some especially interesting lyrics that seem to reference Plato’s famous Allegory of the Cave. Another great song is Blue Oceans Rise (Like a War) with its moody atmosphere and haunting synthesizer work and a characteristically strong drum performance from Anders Kobro.
Unfortunately we hit a bit of a lull with the songs Cult of Shining Stars through Transmission KRS. None of these are bad songs at all just a bit of a let down from the excellent first half and mostly just feel a bit bland and strikingly similar. The biggest let down is aforementioned Transmission KRS which is an almost 11 minute long instrumental. There are plenty of fascinating musical ideas here, like the synth work around the 5 and a half minute mark, but it just goes on too long that I had trouble focusing on the music at this point.
However we pick up really quickly after that with The Dark Dream which opens up with some killer riffs courtesy of Christian Boterri and Fogarty. It also has some excellent moody sections where Christopher Boterri’s bass work actually manages to get through. The closing track, Mystery of the Constellations is also excellent with some fantastic guitar solos.
Overall this is a very strong album but the weak tracks in the middle really kill the pace of this album. Especially the instrumental which has so many moments I like stretched out unnecessarily. If it was just about 7 minutes or so it probably would have been just so much stronger. Despite my gripes it definitely got me interested in the band’s prior work and probably a worthwhile listen for any fans.
Must-listens: Pure, Mystery of the Constellations, The Cave of Dreams