In Mourning has been hailed by many as the heir to Opeth‘s throne in the wake of the latter band’s moving away from metal. 2008’s Shrouded Divine re-opened the melodeath genre for a lot of people—this Angry Metal Guy included—who felt like it had really just stagnated. That record, and the band’s previous demos, had a bit of a doomy feel and a thickness to it. But there were also some almost blasty, black metal vibes that came through and while the drums are a bit flat at times and the production isn’t perfect, the album has an undeniable charm. Monolith, the band’s follow up, definitely was a big disappointment for me. After lauding it on a release high, it just fell of the map as 2010 wore on. There are fans of the blog who are still mad at me that Monolith wasn’t 2010’s Record o’ the Year—but for some reason the record left me cold after the initial release. So here I am, reviewing the newest record… this can only end in tears.
From its slow build on opening track “Colossus,” The Weight of Oceans starts into a lilting, mid-paced forward lurch that spans an hour. Varying between chunky metal with a bit of a core-y feel to it and Swallow the Sun doomy melodic parts, there is almost a rhythmic nature to this album like the tide coming in. This softer and more swaying or lilting kind of material still speaks to me on some level. Tracks like “From a Tidal Sleep” and closing track “Voyage of a Wavering Mind” surge forward slowly, and subtly and creep in under your skin.
The other side of In Mourning is the heavier, more aggressive side that shows up on tracks like “Convergence” which, while melodic, makes good use of drummer Christian Netzell’s feet. While the track regresses back to the sludgy mean eventually, it still shows off some of the more aggressive aspects of the band. The same is true “Isle of Solace,” which actually features a blast beat—something that was much more present on Shrouded Divine and made me keep coming back to that album. However, this kind of intensity tends to be offset by the “regressing to the sludgy mean,” I mentioned earlier.
As a record, The Weight of Oceans suffers from two major weaknesses. The first is that it is too long and the second is that the really good material is on the back end of the album. “Convergence” is intense, while “Isle of Solace” ups that intensity after “Sirens,” the piano interlude. “The Drowning Sun,” has an Opeth vibe to it that rules, with an amazing 6/8 lilt that waltzes up and gets your head nodding—just like it would if you were listening to Blackwater Park—and “Voyage of a Wavering Mind” ties the doomy, chunky bow onto the last 30 minutes of the album. The problem, is that as the listener you have to wade through 30 minutes of less than inspiring material to get there.
So now I stand on the precipice of “panning” (as 3/5 will have their fans whining for justice) The Weight of Oceans and I find myself in a bit of a conundrum. In Mourning is a band that I want to like. Shrouded Divine is a classic record, but their post-Shrouded Divine material just leaves me uninspired. Why? Why does the band landing in Insomnium or Omnium Gatherum or Swallow the Sun territory leave me so cold? What I come back to is that this material lacks intensity and extremity. While The Weight of Oceans has some great melodic structures, beautiful textures and a nice prog-rocky kind of lilt to it, the raw intensity that was coupled with Swedish melancholy seems to have been stripped away with better production and time. And while it shows up on the back end of the album, it’s not on display from the beginning and that means that I feel kinda underwhelmed.
Props where they’re due, though: this album cover is amazing and if you’re a fan of any of the bands I mentioned earlier, you should definitely give them a listen. Maybe this’ll click for me: it took me about 10 tries before Ghost Reveries did, and well.