Review Summary: The Latter Rain is a showcase of something truly brilliant, with accomplished performances from every musician involved. If you like unique, avant-garde and thoroughly entertaining metal, then this is a release you simply cannot pass up. It’s that good.
There is a point in some bands careers where I feel that they truly pass by any genre foundations. Opeth reached it straight away, Edge of Sanity reached it with Crimson, Disillusion reached it with Back To Times of Splendor and In Vain have reached it with The Latter Rain. To reach this point (at least in my mind) said bands don’t need to be crazily articulate or madly random, no, they just need to really have their own style, their own sound and their own way of going about things. They just have to be unique in their execution, this is something I feel In Vain are, unique.
In Vain have a lot of different things that they can do well, they can be very aggressive, very melancholic, sort of jazzy and mental and also pretty damn exciting at times. It is this variation within their sound which gives them a good, unique strength, as they are not afraid of experimenting at this early stage in their career. Despite this experimentation though, they still manage to retain a good cohesion throughout The Latter Rain, things never seem forced or over the top, it’s all just a part of In Vain’s sound.
Now, enough about why they are good. What are they? That’s where this gets a bit tricky. The band themselves are very avant-garde and progressive, with lots of different influences, but what is probably at the core of this is a very heavy and crunchy death metal approach. It’s the other influences, the huge melodic guitar leads, the doomy song structures and the sometimes jazzy sections, that turn it into something entirely different and more unique than your usual stuff. I could pick out any song from The Latter Rain and describe how it is completely different from the next, as on the album you can expect to find anything from gothic keyboards and melodic guitar leads (In The Midnight Hour) through to heavy and grungy riffs complimented by violins (The Titan), once again I can’t stress enough how important this sort of variation is for any band. It keeps the listener interested and on their toes, eager to hear what next comes out of the album.
This dissimilarity in every song doesn’t just come in different tracks through the album, no, the actual songs themselves are varied and interesting throughout. With the average track length coming in at about seven minutes, In Vain don’t try to throw too many ideas into a single track, but still manage to include very diverse elements into different tracks. Take for example album opener The Midnight Hour (I’m discounting the useless intro), starting with a very gothic metal atmosphere and good growling vocals, it actually goes through the motions somewhat simplistically for the first two minutes before beginning to get more varied and interesting. After the beginning it eventually begins to introduce haunting spoken word sections, technical and memorable guitar riffs (very reminiscent to Crimson era Edge of Sanity) and Viking metal-esq chanting. The band manage to end it on a huge climax, introducing clean sung vocals used in the context of the death metal riffing and gothic keyboards used before: “In the midnight hour / The moment it all will come down / The earth will roar and its people will tremble”
After this you might expect something similar from the next track, but what you get is something completely different in Det Raknar. Beginning with some very funky and ‘happy’ sounding keyboards, it eventually breaks down into a very furious and aggressive black metal assault, with simply amazing tortured vocals that are both screamed and shouted with the utmost intensity. The vocals on this track are simply astounding, with frantic screaming, shouting and deep guttural growling contrasting that brilliantly, it doesn’t let up until about two and a half minutes in, where clean vocals are suddenly thrown into the mix, as well as a much bigger emphasis on melody.
As you can see by my descriptions here (which I got a bit carried away with) the album can be very surprising at first, but also very inviting. I know that after my first listen I couldn’t wait to hear it again and analyze it in greater detail. Already at such an early stage in their career In Vain seem to have struck just the right balance between accessibility and being unique. While the band are very avant-garde, they also have some amazingly memorable parts in their songs, so that they slowly manage to work their way into your sub consciousness, further listens just cement their place in their more.
While the album is hugely consistent as a whole, that isn’t to say that there aren’t stand out tracks. As I Wither blew me away so easily that I felt somewhat dirty afterwards, while October’s Monody is just a huge example of how to make an epic and simply fantastic song last for six minutes while being utterly varied and ever-changing. I actually don’t want to go into too much detail with the songs for you, as that would ruin the surprise, but what I can definitely say is that there is a little something for everyone in this album. Be it excellent riffs, furious and contrasting vocals, jazzy style or just variation within a style, it’s all there.
So, how do you best sum up an album like this? I could go on about these guys for ages, but that wouldn’t truly be necessary when they speak so much for themselves. For a debut album, The Latter Rain is a showcase of something truly brilliant, with accomplished performances from every musician involved. If you like unique, avant-garde and thoroughly entertaining metal, then this is a release you simply cannot pass up. It’s that good.
“Every tear in our eyes will be wiped away / There will be no more death, no mourning / The old order of things will perish / The soul is quiet, the world is empty”