I first stumbled across In Mourning back in 2010 when they released their second full length album ‘Monolith’. The intensity within the melodic death metal sections when combined with the subtle gothic undercurrents from their initial sounds and the slightly progressive metal elements they were trying to incorporate into their sound had my attention and in all, it was a pretty damn fine release! I then seemed to lose track of the Swedes until 2016 when they released ‘Afterglow’ which served as a reminder of just what this quintet was capable of. With a more refined progressive approach to melodic death metal, In Mourning delivered a high-quality album and now, three years on, it’s time to set foot once again into their world. Prepare for the Garden Of Storms.
One thing of note regarding In Mourning is their guitar-trident approach. Three guitars are the prongs of their musical attack, rounded off by an incredibly sturdy rhythm section and this musical weapon they wield works rather well and creates some interesting dynamics within the tracks; lingering droning notes and chords, subtle arpeggios buried in the layers, interesting harmony sections and plenty of technical delivery to throw about also. This is all present on the opening track of the release “Black Storm”. The standard clean passage which flips to a distorted repetition before breaking into the surging riffs which come as a standard for melodic death metal introduces the track and you can’t help but hear elements of Insomnium and Dark Tranquillity in the band’s sound. With shifts to clean and melodic sections which are extremely atmospheric throughout the track, it helps add some variety and flavour to the track and it shows a band who aren’t afraid to take gambles with their song writing. Multiple revisits to the chorus section and clean to heavily distorted transition phases link it all together and the end result is a solid melodic death metal opening track.
From here, you start to pick up more on the progressive metal influences on the band’s sound. “Yields Of Sand” is a polar opposite of the previous track; calm, collected and rigidly organised, it is deliberate and methodical whereas its predecessor is wild and intense. Predominantly clean vocals dominate the early stages of the track and their expressive quality helps create a more subdued atmosphere, much like that of progressive metal bands like Rendezvous Point. The calm doesn’t hold out for long; round the 1:40 point of the track, it suddenly shifts. Distortion, harsh growls, angular chord stabs and an oppressive atmosphere descend on the track and the expressive progressive metal tones are replaced with a harsher blackened and death metal edge; think Ihsahn and Opeth and you will get an idea of what I mean. The controlled yet raw intensity acts as a shock to the system and it turns things around yet again, adding that variable to the already dynamic song writing the band have put forward on this release, and despite the predictable switches between the clean and distortion dominated sections, the way they are arranged and delivered is spot on.
These two tracks provide a rather comprehensive picture of how the album shapes up and as you listen to it, going from the surging “Hierophant” with its ferocious melodic metal edge, loaded with cutting riffs and a crisp, technically minded lead section to “Magenta Ritual” where it once again plays heavily into the theatrical and atmospheric dynamics which the band have been incorporating into their sound over the years, you’re left wondering which way the musical current will drag you. It is only when you end up at “The Lost Outpost”, the final track of the album, you realise where you are; the eye of a musical storm. It’s a long track and a rather ambitious musical undertaking for a band who aren’t primarily associated with the more extreme side of progressive metal – a 10-minute musical journey which tries to demonstrate everything In Mourning have displayed on the previous tracks, along with a few newer ideas which show a band hungry to continue pushing their own boundaries. Flair-loaded lead sections, polyrhythmic thrusts of riffs and crushing angular chord stabs are caught up in a highly atmospheric web of synth ambience and augmentation.
In all, amongst this complex musical backdrop, “Garden Of Storms” is a high quality release from a technical viewpoint. From a casual stance, it’s rather complex and extremely ambitious. In places, it feels like there is too much going on, or the band is sometimes trying to force a section to last longer than what initial impressions make you feel it should last, purely to make their grand musical ambition happen… In short, maybe they could have reigned in those pesky experimental and expressive urges in order to cut a few minutes off the total runtime. Maybe they could have axed one or two repetitions of a certain section of a track just so it flows a little more naturally.
Maybe In Mourning could have done a lot more with this album, but honestly… Why would they need too? “Garden Of Storms” is a solid melodic death metal release and is certainly a breath of fresh air in a genre which is seeing it’s ‘bigger names’ all headed for different sounds. Yes, In Mourning may themselves be eyeing a shift to the progressive realm, much like Ihsahn and Opeth have done, but for now, they have certainly changed the climate of 2019’s melodic death metal scene!