In Mourning – Garden of Storms (Agonia)

Wednesday, 11th December 2019
Rating: 7.5/10

In Mourning 2016’s Afterglow was such an immense, gratifying effort that it made whatever hum-drum over Opeth’s abandonment of Swedish progressive death metal to be moot. In Mourning, had, for all intents and purposes, done exactly what everyone wanted Opeth to do. That still doesn’t stop folks from begging and/or yearning for Åkerfeldt to return to full growls when it’s staring them right in the face with In Mourning. Anyway, toppling Afterglow was going to be a mighty tough task and while In Mourning appears up to the challenge, Garden of Storms is a notch below its predecessor.

Some lineup changes were afoot in the In Mourning camp, with Sebastian Svalland (bass) and Joakim Strandberg Nilsson (drums) taking the place of long-time bassist Pierre Stam and former Katatonia drummer Daniel Liljekvist. But, mainstay and founding member Tobias Netzell is still leading the charge, now oscillating between his patented growls and clean vocals more than ever, which is where Garden of Storms goes sideways. Netzell’s clean vocals lack the sort of heft and ear-pleasing nature of some of his contemporaries, which explains why the chorus on lead track “Black Storm,” the beginning of “Yields of Sand” as well as the softer portions of “Magenta Ritual” fail to translate. Whereas his clean vocals were used sparingly and wisely throughout Afterglow, they’re the main stumbling block on Garden of Storms.

In spite of such qualms, Garden of Storms unleashes some of In Mourning’s most extreme compositions to date, in particular, the domineering “Huntress Moon” and progged-out “Tribunal of Suns,” which is the exact kind of snaky, melodically-infused mélange of progressive death metal In Mourning has come to perfect. On Garden of Storms, these moments happen, but not enough.

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