In Mourning – Afterglow (Agonia)

Wednesday, 11th May 2016
Rating: 8.5/10

The obvious question with In Mourning is this: how much do they want to be Opeth when Opeth doesn’t want to be Opeth these days? It’s a fine line considering how imitable Opeth’s sound is, particularly everything up until Watershed. There have been a few bands whose sole intention was to ape the Opeth sound and nothing else, Farmakon being the most obvious of the bunch. But In Mourning put on such a balancing act across Afterglow (their fourth full-length to date) that such generalities may not matter in the end. It’s really that good of an album.

Joined by former Katatonia drummer Daniel Liljekvist, Afterglow effectively takes the baton from the band’s wholly overlooked The Weight of Oceans album from 2012. There, the Swedes managed to punctuate searing prog riffs with daring arrangements. Here, they do it one better. The instant, rather memorable lead melody on opener “Fire and Ocean” ranks among the band’s finest to date, even after it breaks off from a somewhat Opeth-like groove circa 2001. Some of the cuts get sliced up with clean passages and clean(er) vocals (“Ashen Crown”), while the lull-you-into-a-haze breaks found on “Below Rise to the Above” and “The Lighthouse Keeper” find the band seeking out the right angles and moves to maintain flow and excitement.

Yet it’s the never-ending flow of strong, flavorful melodies that regularly points Afterglow in the right direction. They’re going to have the occasional Opeth moment (see: “The Call to Orion”), but that’s okay, for once the Swedes move on from such ideas, they’re usually in the clear, and more importantly, playing more into their own strengths versus another band’s. But again, if there’s a better representative Swedish progressive death metal than In Mourning, then who are they and can they do better than Afterglow? Probably not.

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