In Vain – Back to Nowhere (Fighter Records)Friday, 2nd February 2024
Another In Vain has been covered previously on this site – the Norwegian progressive death/black metal outfit that Katarina McGinn elaborated on through 2018’s Currents review. This is a Spanish outfit who lean towards the heavy, thrash, and power metal side of the movement on this latest record Back to Nowhere. Half of the quartet has been together since starting in 2003, evolving over those two decades through five previous album releases – so it stands to reason that you can expect a solid understanding of the direction these musicians wish to take.
The record starts off on an energetic note with the one/two positions for “Story of a Lie” and “For the Fallen”. The former features crunchy, heads down rhythms with a bit of a menacing angle, the quick twin harmony lines an added hook touch next to some thrash-oriented rhythm section mechanics – while the latter leans into Iron Maiden meets Blind Guardian territory musically, the vocals of guitarist Daniel Cordón forceful with the occasional melodic high note propensity to match the exciting, driving anthem components. Influences encapsulate a mix of European power, American thrash, plus classic British heavy metal aspects – often intertwined from one measure to the next, depending on the atmosphere and attitude put forth. Uplifting riffs along with a heroic vocal stamp makes “The Blind Man” an easy standout, while the Far Eastern dynamics between the introductory female voice and lush instrumental overtones soon give chance to a heads down speedy affair for “The Last Breath of Freedom”, the emotive, circular lead break from Julio Abadia very expressive to be aligned to the exotic, majestic feel of the arrangement. By the time the speed metal closer “Sacred Bond” finishes the record, most will be wiping the sweats off their collective brows to start over again – the 45-minute outing just perfect in terms of delivering enough material to not cause ear fatigue.
In Vain love a lot of early 90’s thrash meets mid/late 90’s power/traditional influences – the type that just galvanizes festival hordes. Back to Nowhere provides proof to the positive that you can be catchy, heavy, as well as melodic without watering down your sound.