In Mourning // Monolith
Rating: 5.0/5.0 —Easily one of the best up-and-coming bands in the world
Label: Pulverised Records
Website(s): inmourning.net | myspace.com/in_mourning
Release Date(s): EU: 25.01.2010 | US: Unknown (Possibly early February via Megaforce / Sony)
In 2008 the underground was taken by storm by a little-known Swedish progressive death metal band called In Mourning that released a tour de force entitled Shrouded Divine. A powerful combination of melodic death metal, Opeth-y style progressive bits and death metal with just a touch of core (trust me, just a touch), they were ranked highly on many year end lists and, frankly, left a bit of an impression on this Angry Metal Guy. See, there is life past Opeth in Swedish progressive metal, something that I had been coming to doubt. In Mourning managed to put out a record that had all of the great heaviness and thickness that one wants in a death metal record, while still managing to keep the haunting progressive parts fresh and interesting. The question is can they keep it up? Is it possible that they’re able to follow up such a lauded record with something even better?
The answer to the previous question is an unequivocal YES! In Mourning has come back for their sophomore release sounding hungrier than ever. With improved production qualities and a new label (that has an eye for talent, obviously, and provided the band with great artwork by the same guy who has done the Katatonia, Opeth, Devin Townsend, and Bloodbath covers, Travis Smith) In Mourning has been able to shape their sound into something even more powerful and cohesive than what was established and distinguished on Shrouded Divine. That is to say: Monolith overshadows the earlier work from this band with its power and writing.
The basics are the same, of course. A blend of Swedish death metal (a la Dark Tranquillity, At The Gates) vocals, some hardcore vocals and some great brutal death metal vocals that round out the sound. There is a lot of downtuned chunk on this album, backed up by an excellent and tight rhythm section that makes the tight, technical bits sound crushingly powerful. At the same time the band is able to slow it down a bit and they use guitar melody and, sometimes, vocal melody to even out the landscapes of this record.
One of the most vastly improved aspects of this record, in my opinion, is the flow that they’re able to get. While Shrouded Divine was good, it sometimes felt like the band was too quick to write choppy pieces that felt unnatural moving into each other. Due to the improved production, and I think just a straight up tighter band, Monolith has hardly any moments that don’t feel natural and flowing. Instead, the songs are often deceptively long despite the fact that they don’t feel that way at all, clocking in at six or seven minutes when you think it’s only been 3 or 4, and the transitions are vastly improved. Tracks like “The Poet and the Painter of Souls” exhibit the smart composition that the band now exhibits, moving seamlessly between parts and never really following into bad patterns. The same is also very much true of “With You Came Silence.”
It’s hard for me to say this, as it’s the first record I’ve reviewed for 2010, but this album has the makings of a record of the year. It has everything that fans of doom, melodic death metal, metalcore and well, frankly, good heavy metal in general should look for in bands: technical proficiency, excellent writing, balanced production and cohesiveness. Monolith may well tower over 2010 as one of the best… Not to mention that In Mourning is definitely working its way into the echelons of amazing Swedish metal bands in my opinion. It has been a while since a new band from Sweden really blew me away, but In Mourning has all the makings of one of the greats.