Review Summary: An outing of melancholy, dressed up in catchy albeit dark progressions - October Tide is finally firming up the roster.
Despite the ten year wait between Grey Dawn
and A Thin Shell
, October Tide have seen a rather disjointed line up over the years. What was originally a side project for Katatonia members Jonas Renkse and Fred Norrman, has shifted into a full project without Renkse taking the vocal reigns (he left the band’s vocal duties in 1998) and three years after the re-formation album, October Tide has become focused, consistent without compromising what made them a pleasure to listen to in the first place. Tunnel Of No Light
is a quality listen from start to finish, but stays relatively safer than what the imagery of the album title suggests. At just over fifty minutes, Tunnel Of No Light
doesn’t really push the listener to the limits but at least it doesn’t become boring or repetitive. The length is right for the album, especially with the conventional death/gothic doom structuring. After a three year wait and a revolving door of line-up changes, October Tide’s Tunnel Of No Light
does exactly what it needs to do in order to get back in the game.
Instrumentally, this record is at its safest. Providing an extremely steady foundation on which the almost predictable vocal phrases are placed. It’s not that the work behind the growls is bad, but the guitars do manage to chug along in some very simplistic ways. The result, weirdly enough is an album full of bounce, catchier than it should be and yet, still manages to achieve that melancholic sound, betraying the upbeat passages. The addition of a new vocalist works better for October Tide, yes it’s a change from the likes of Jonas and the early days of the band, but aided by this perfectly clear studio production, the growls force their way to the front of the mix and stay there, providing the dark presence the album needed. One thing that does let the album down is its variance, or rather its lack of. Each and every one of the band’s eight tracks share much of the same formulaic structure and same sounding vocals. It’s not a huge down point of the album but after a few listens; things begin to get a little grating. This is offset by the track found in the middle of the record. ‘Caught In Silence’ takes a more melodic approach than that of the other tracks, taking care to balance the already mentioned chug-a-long with a decent ringing lead section. This shows that the band can when needed, focus more on an atmospheric melody line instead of straight-forward gothic death metal approach. A much needed contrast for an album too plain in its prior half.
By the record’s end, Tunnel Of No Light
remains hugely solid, making the most out of this by the book style. There may be some moments where the listener will lose interest, but they are few and far between. Put simply October Tide’s Tunnel Of No Light
can stand on its own two feet without the need to innovate or push boundaries. The music presents the band building on the rocky foundations it had and hopefully with a steady line-up October Tide may just release a record worthy of the talent they haven’t quite displayed. Tunnel Of No Light
is certainly a step in the right direction and there is plenty of room for growth. For those with an interest in this particular style of metal, it’s advised you at least check this album out. Tunnel Of No Light
is stronger towards its latter half, but that doesn’t mean the first twenty five minutes of the record should be skipped. Give the album a go for what it’s worth. The chances of being fully disappointed are slim. October Tide have certainly seen their fair share of changes since the band’s formation in 1995 but come 2013 it looks as though things are firming up.