In Vain – The Latter Rain – 4.5/5
The last time I described an album as the horribly vague term ‘Extreme’ was with ‘Gonin-Ish,’ and whilst you can rest assured that this release doesn’t feel as weird as all that, the term certainly still seems to apply. Sure, there are the rampant tremolo riffs combined with shrieks and howls that would allude to Black Metal, but the Death Metal drum theory and deeper growls swing things back in the other direction, but it all doesn’t end here – in fact its barely begun. There are these almost folk-like overtones that emerge, gentle neo-classical ambient doom-filled passages with jazzy saxophones, violins, cello’s, flutes, trumpets, trombones and even Viking chanting, often working together to create an oddly majestic atmosphere.
An ‘Opeth’ comparison feels valid – particularly of note in many of the guitar riffs – and whilst both have a unique way of doing things, the scope for variety here feels far broader; incorporating Hollenthon’s sense of theatrics, Estatic Fears penchant for the fluidity between the differently paced sections and Wintersun’s scope for majestic aggression. The many ambient passages acting as more than mere ‘interludes;’ they feel as integral to the composition as anything else and emerge in such a natural manner that it would feel odd to not make the transition, and perhaps even more impressive is the fact that that it doesn’t feel any less than the more complex passages, oozing with passion and emotion that would allow them to stand in their own right.
It is this notion that forms much of the core of the composition, emotion over simplistic aggression and the guitars are the exemplary example of this fact, capable of performing complex riffs and neo-classical grandeur and occasionally demonstrating that fact, they are instead all the more concerned with maintaining the performance, the intention behind the solo performances to provide an emotional highlight – a difficult feat with such a strong composition and one that he doesn’t always succeed in achieving – and with such a theatrical sense of genuine progression of events told through the music, the range of emotions capable of exploring feels easily broad enough to encompass the albums duration.
My only cause for concern – and the reason for the imperfect score – is the vocals; sometimes the growls feeling a little weaker and more monotonous than would be ideal to exemplify the transitions between styles, made up largely for the sheer variety of vocal styles prevalent throughout. Supplemented by the ever sublime vocal work of Kjetil Nordhus (Green Carnation) and Jan K. Transeth (In The Woods), it is without their assistance that the bands future begins to look less steady. This may be their debut full-length but between the impeccable instrumentation, composition and the detail-enriching production values, it feels anything but amateurish; they may be relative newcomers to the scene but they have clearly long been refining their sound in preparation.
Highlights: In the Midnight Hour, Octobers Monody, As I Wither