Album Review: In Mourning – Garden of Storms

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Band: In Mourning | Album: Garden of Storms | Genre: Melodic death metal, Progressive metal | Year: 2019

From: Falun, Sweden | Label: Agonia Regords

For fans of: Edge of Sanity, Opeth, Agalloch

Buy: Bandcamp | Amazon | Apple Music

In Mourning are a Swedish metal band who play in a style very similar to that of their fellow countrymen, Opeth; but they’re distinct enough to avoid the label of “Opeth clone,” something for which the current prog-metal scene does not want. Opeth’s classic material is some of the best progressive metal ever recorded, and there’s been a yawning, Opeth-shaped hole in the scene ever since they switched to playing unimpressive, unimaginative retro-prog.

In Mourning have been around for nearly two decades, giving them plenty of time to develop their own unique flourishes within the framework of progressive melodic death metal. Garden of Storms is their fifth full-length release and a noticeable step up in quality over 2016’s Afterglow. The songwriting is strong, and there is a smart degree of interplay between distorted and clean sections.

The opening track, “Black Storm”, demonstrates both In Mourning’s similarities to and differences from Opeth. The main riff is a dark bit of melodic death metal that injects creepy atmospheric elements. Vocalist Tobias Netzell shows impressive range and versatility in both his growls and his clean singing. Among such typical traits of prog-melo-death, there are shoegaze-tinted passages that remind me of something Agalloch might have done.

“Yields of Sand” follows in a starkly different manner. Opening with clean everything, it is evocative of new wave or post-punk. The sound soon shifts to more familiar fare: harsh vocals, distorted guitars, and crashing drums. The melodies are strong, and the song evolves in a way that always keeps the listener engaged.

With this being a melodic death metal album, there needs to be at least one (mostly) slow and gentle song. “Magenta Ritual” is pretty strong as far as death metal ballads go. The song is inventive structurally, with a very harsh midsection contrasting with the gentle opening and heavy-yet-melodic closing. “Tribunal of Suns” showcases similar contrasts of gentle and aggressive, albeit in an inverted order.

As good as the music on this album is, though, some of it does begin to feel same-y after a while. Much of the middle of this album lacks sonic variation, and the songs can be difficult to tell apart. Perhaps cutting a song or rearranging the order would have helped. But as it stands, some of it is a bit of a slog.

Garden of Storms closes on its longest and most engaging song, “The Lost Outpost”. The opening guitar line is fluid and languid, but it soon shifts to something sharper and more biting. Bassist Sebastian Svalland gets a chance to show off in some of the song’s more atmospheric moments, providing some great, distorted fills. Creepy keyboard tones augment the song’s finale, which ends on a haunting note.

In Mourning have released one of the better progressive death metal albums I’ve heard this year. Garden of Storms has inventive melodies, top-notch instrumental work, and masterful vocal performances. The middle of this album feels a bit of bloated, but it isn’t anything too egregious. I’m hopeful that future releases will be more focused and that the band will continue evolving and exploring.

Score: 82/100

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