Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu left its mark. Not only was it unusually powerful and captivating for a mere short story, but it also burned some remarkable images into my mind. likewise, coming across In Mourning‘s The Weight of Oceans was a great surprise. I knew nothing of the band, but the album art stole my breath away and for that reason alone, no matter what it sounded like, I needed to posses The Weight of Oceans. I grabbed the album and hit play, within seconds captivating waves washed over me, I was sold. Four years on, The Weight of Oceans still ranks as one of my most loved albums. In fact, you know those lists you keep in the back of your mind for those 5/5 albums that you’d want with you as you’re stranded on an island? Well, The Weight of Oceans certainly tops that list for me. Yes, it’s considered a little long by some, and yes, others claim In Mourning are doing nothing more than trying to live up to the Opeth of bygone days. It all comes together though if you’re the patient sort, and you let the melodic waves carry you away with their ebb and flow. The Weight of Oceans prompted me to delve into In Mourning‘s back catalog, but the magic just wasn’t there. Along comes Afterglow and I’m brimming with hope that it’ll be a solid continuation of its predecessor.
Afterglow quickly makes it clear that In Mourning still delivers melodeath with the progressive nature of Opeth, Insomnium‘s atmosphere, and Swallow the Sun‘s solemnity. In addition, In Mourning have added some nods to the death doom of Ghost Brigade and of course there’s the very obvious link Tobias Nezell has to October Tide (A Thin Shell). “Fire and Ocean” successfully transitions from The Weight of Oceans into Afterglow. Slightly combative on opening, the track feels jarring and for this I blame Nezell’s vocals. I’m struck by how metalcore they’ve become, compared with his delivery in the past. Thankfully as you move deeper into Afterglow, Nezell’s delivery becomes more familiar. “The Grinning Mist” and “Ashen Crown” follow suit, much as you’d expect influence-wise. Both tracks pass inoffensively and without much impact. If you’re not concentrating you’ll miss the contrasts Nezell achieves with his striking clean delivery versus his near-Åkerfeldt-like growls.
“Below Rise to the Above” and “The Lighthouse Keeper” are the pinnacle of Afterglow. Both songs brush the eight-minute mark, and this is the perfect length for an In Mourning track. “Below Rise to the Above” begins with a sparkling intro that makes use of subtle shifts and the melody stays with you at length. An interesting mistimed beat (supplied by new drummer Daniel Liljekvist (ex-Katatonia)), enchanting cleans and stop-start riffing (bringing to mind Meshuggah‘s Obzen) become soothed by a timeless melody that drifts into the melodic motif I’d compare to Omnium Gatherum. Nezell’s vocals hit a high point, sounding closer to A Thin Shell. There are so many moving parts, “Below Rise to the Above” becomes perfect spacey disjointedness as it flows straight into “The Lighthouse Keeper.” A weird Nightsatan soundtrack-like feel kicks “The Lighthouse Keeper” off before the track winds down stepping through the discography of every band that In Mourning idolize. Is this unoriginal or just good use of existing artistry? I wish there had been more of this sweeping vastness on the remainder of the album. The back end of Afterglow is largely similar to what you heard in “The Grinning Mist” and “Ashen Crown.” “The Call to Orion” and “Afterglow” do have brief moments of value, the biggest being the hint of Ghost Brigade‘s Until Fear No Longer Defines Us that crops up in both tracks.
Afterglow was recorded in two different locations, Nordin Music Studios handling the drums and Libra Studios the guitar, bass and vocals. Mixing and mastering duties were handled by Jonas Martinsson in Necrosavant Studio. In Mourning went with an organic feel and my understanding of this was to make Afterglow sound more alive and less studio manipulated. This has paid off. From the subtle rumble of the bass in “Afterglow” to Nezell’s stand-out cleans, scattered throughout the release, each aspect comes together well.
Many commented that at over an hour and nine tracks, The Weight of Oceans was just too long. This never plagued me. Afterglow is a slightly more concise offering which shows In Mourning tried to reign themselves in. After spending a fair amount of time reveling in Afterglow, I’m left feeling that had I not heard The Weight of Oceans, I would be happier with this album. Comparing apples for apples though, Afterglow falls short of it’s predecessor. There’s nothing about Afterglow that isn’t beautiful, jarring, chaotic or charming, that said, if you’re not concentrating, many of the songs just pass by in a blur. In Mourning are capable of so much more than that!