Recorded in Kristiansand, Norway between December 2020 and May 2022, the return of Norwegian Progressive Blackened avant-garde Metal act In The Woods… with new vocalist Bernt Fjellestad for another epic masterpiece following untrodden paths and pagan tongue is an intriguing prospect. Mixed and mastered by Frédéric Gervais at Studio Henosis and accompanied by artwork from Dr. Winter (Teratogen), the eight track affair also finds them with a new label home in Soulseller Records…
The sixth chapter begins with a warped sense of reality in “The Coward’s Way“, cut that combines beauty and the beast with Fjellestad’s almost angelic clean vocals making way for his wrath of a God like uncleans after a tension filled opening passage. Following a similar path to several Scandinavian bands of this stature like Evergrey or Amorphis the sound is absolutely huge with no borders or boundaries in their path. It also pays to expect the unexpected with something of an avant-garde nature and in “Moments” the band pull out a Metallica inspired Thrash section with a dark spoken word accompaniment that it as good as it is unexpected. By the time “We Sinful Converge” rears its ugly head Fjellestad’s vocals are so distinctly different between the clean and unclean it’s like having two separate vocalists on the track and against a soundscape of epic grandeur he is able to produce his finest work with style and grace. The extended solo of “The Malevolent God” is vibrant and dynamic as extremes within the bands sound push out. The storytelling is fantastic, the lyrics offering a depth and texture that is only found in fine wines or aged whiskeys, a sinister edge keeping you on your toes throughout.
An ode to depression, “A Wonderful Crisis” finds epic arena filling grandeur in the darkest of subjects, the warmth of the music masking some of the darkness of inner thoughts exposed in the lyrical narrative. That’s not a bad thing as it means you can take what you want from the song, not reading into it as deeply if you don’t wish although in truth with something of this stature it’s hard not to get swept along with the tsunami of emotion. The attention to detail throughout the album is second to none which is a reflection on the length of time taken to put it together, the musicanship matching the vision stride for stride as the record plays out. Turning a shade darker “Humanity” raises a few ugly questions while also having a Thrash inspired passage of its own that opens the void into another dimension. It’s a real moment in a cut that builds up steadily and fades graciously with the kind of dedication to craft that is spellbinding, bringing diversity without ever abandoning the roots of their sound. A big, bold chorus does little to mask the sense of meloncholia that “Master Of None” has at its heart, it’s Earth shattering power appearing in the second verse before the classical instrumental section post chorus replaces a verse with the kind of sound that cries out for a grand venue to be performed in. What an album like “Diversum” begs for is a grand finale of epic magnitude and with “Your Dark” In The Woods nail that brief with consummate ease. The third cut to approach seven minutes, at the eye of the storm is hidden a Melodic Death Metal passage that surpasses the qualities of the Thrash inspired moments with something darker and more intense. A truly spellbinding album, the future of In The Woods has been confirmed as safe with Bernt Fjellestad at the helm [8.5/10]
The Coward’s Way
We Sinful Converge
The Malevolent God
A Wonderful Crisis
Master Of None
“Diversum” by In The Woods… is out 25th November 2022 via Soulseller Records with pre-orders available over at bandcamp.