in-mourning-afterglowI saw In Mourning play in 2011 at ProgPower Europe, where they put on a slick display of melodic death metal to reinforce the equally impressive album “The Weight of Oceans” (2012).

This album sets off in the same mould and it’s easy to see why Sweden’s In Mourning might be compared to Opeth. It’s cleanly delivered, but there are deep growls and many dark clouds. Both “Fire and Ocean” and “The Grinning Mist” are full of these dark and epic qualities. Clean, Akerfeldt-style haunting vocals momentarily interrupt the instrumental luxury in “The Grinning Mist” before returning to the ever-developing patterns and structures. “Ashen Crown” is more slow and churning. It has a more irregular progression than what has gone before. It’s hard to think of these vocals without calling up thoughts of fire, and as each track turns into new territories, it becomes ever more imposing. Then “Ashen Crown” takes a delicate and defiant turn towards doom. After the hypnotic end to “Ashe Crown”, a kind of post-metal doom starts “Below Rise to the Above”, expanding into flame-filled melody and instrumental colour. They’re dark colours of course. The drum pumps out an imperious beat. The song control is immaculate as always as everything rises logically out of everything else. A progressive passage cuts in, with shuddering guitars duetting with lofty sound. It could have ended there for me, but In Mourning felt the need to add some extra twists and a guitar solo, which I thought was unnecessary and broke the atmosphere of intrigue. “The Lighthouse Keeper” starts in darkly melancholic fashion before breaking out into epic Enslaved-like territory. It’s a fiery feast, never losing its enveloping sense of drama but coming to an end a bit too anti-climactically for me. The chunky guitar work on “The Call to Orion” is superb. The drum pumps out another Opeth-like beat. The excitement is here in the marching instrumental progression, which I hadn’t felt to this point. Finally my adrenaline was flowing. A clean haunting vocal line intervenes to the high pitched post metal ring accompanying it. Fire and brimstone returns and the rush of adrenaline returned. The album ends with the pumping and warrior-like title track. It takes no prisoners as it chugs along in its exotic way. The lofty sampled sound of angels contrasts with the uncompromising thrust. The bass guitar cuts in, and “Afterglow” finishes on an awe-inspiring and mystical note.

Without doubt, there’s a lot of accomplished musicianship and creativity on this album. In my mind, I found “Afterglow” in some of the earlier parts quite clinical, yet sometimes it was over elaborate. I was conscious of the likeness in style to Opeth but then there was that mystical expansive sound which I would associate with Enslaved. Somehow this album did not excite me for the most part in the way that I thought that it might. Yet I heard heaviness of impressive sway and magnitude, and admired the strong and ever more complex structures, which justify the accolades that In Mourning have received over the years.

(8/10 Andrew Doherty)