Recorded in Brighton, England and Kristiansand, Norway. Mixed in France by Frederic Gervais (Studio Henosis).
This album is yet another lesson in don’t rely on first impressions. It is a rich, complex, and beautifully heavy collection of black metal-infused Norwegian progressive metal.
When I was first sent this album to review by Rob at Stampede Press UK, he said “you’re going to love this”. So with great expectation, I downloaded the review files and threw them into MusicBee to take a listen.
James Fogarty’s rich, warm baritone voice opens the album with a tune that wouldn’t go amiss in a West End show. “The dawn is a spell to be broken, the night is for drifting on the seas…”
What is this?! I didn’t get it. After my first listen through, I felt completely underwhelmed and disappointed.
I gave it a few days and listened again. And again. And again. I have a general policy that I won’t review an album without listening to it at least three times through. And am I glad that I do.
I’m listening to the album right now as I write this and my heart soars as I listen to it. Over the last few weeks, as I have absorbed this music it has changed me. Indifference and confusion has been replaced with a deep admiration. I get it now. It’s like a part of their story has been caught up in mine.
The album is an autobiographical diary of the last two years of chaos within this Norwegian, former-black metal band. It is lamentful, aggressive, haunting, hopeful. Excluding the final, title track which runs to 1′ 52″, the remaining seven songs last between 6′ 29″ and 9′ 35″, but none overstay their welcome.
This album deserves to be heard more widely. In The Woods… have clearly taken their black metal roots and made something in their own image that has integrity and substance. This is an album that is as gothic as it is metal, is as folk as it is heavy rock. This is what black metal sounds like after it’s been left abandoned for years in a Norwegian forest and nature has reclaimed it. There is a humanity to this music and emotion embedded within this record. It sounds epic and I hear something new each listen. You can’t ask more than that from a record.
My favourite track, you ask? “Substance vortex” (track 2). Thanks Rob, you were right, I love it. It took me a while to get there but I got there. This is an album that just keeps on giving.
Review score: 100%
Rob from Stampede Press UK contacted me inviting me to preview In The Woods… album, which I was delighted about.
I have no connections to either Stampede Press UK or In The Woods… I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool.
Many thanks to Rob from Stampede Press UK, and to In The Woods… for continuing to create fresh, exciting music.