Review Summary: Shoulder’s tired, arms are heavy.
Have you ever got so lost in the moment, so caught up in what you're doing that you lose sight of what happens after? In many ways In Mourning's latest fits this vague and open line of questioning. Garden Of Storms
is a potentially stellar album that’s unfortunately lost “in the moment”. Put simply, it lacks the basic memorability and status found in the band’s previous studio efforts. Harsh? Well, probably; especially considering my gripes with Garden Of Storms
isn’t directly found within the music’s talented songwriters - but in the album’s lack of variance, song-writing awareness, unconscious recycling ideas, less than perfect execution and slight production issues.
On first listen, Garden Of Storms
is a sublime experience, but it’s first impressions are incredibly misleading. It’s clear, even after a couple of spins that there’s no foresight in regards to the album’s ‘bigger picture’. While each section and every instrument is played with near perfection (bordering completely in the realms of overdoing things) the album’s same-ness sucks life from this particular garden
. The emotional depth of the music is lost in weaves of its more augmented parts and in doing so, In Mourning’s music begins to suffer for it. Despite the band’s slow but noticeable move away from the doom-led era of the group’s foundation, there’s still quite a lot of the old being blended into the new. Garden Of Storms
’s opening piece, “Black Storm” for example takes light black metal aesthetics and decidedly half-cocked 70s rapport. As usual, Netzell’s Swe-death growls reign supreme, falling close to Åkerfeldt-ian likeness while punching straight through the progressive death soundscape In Mourning lean heavily into - but it’s the melodic cleans that [more than] occasionally miss their mark. “Yields Of Sand” and “Tribunals Of Suns” in particular emphasises this hiccup due to some underperformed melodies and lack-lustre clean energies. It’s in moments like these that In Mourning does better by contrasting the heavier death metal sections... if only that wasn’t the band’s answer for every underwhelming use of crooned, clean sung passage on this record. “Hierophant”, while great as a stand-alone display of In Mourning’s music, pales in the face of the two tracks to follow it. Kind of like a girl taking her ugly friend out clubbing… but with absolutely no upside.
This review might start to sound like it’s favouring just one side of the argument, but it’s not all bad news. Of the album’s seven tracks, there are but two clear stand-outs that buck a trend of middlesome overbearance and overwrought instrumental blending. It’s a feature made more noticeable that these songs are juxtaposed together. “Magenta Ritual” is
a majestic offering that lives up to the standard of music Garden Of Storms
as a whole, fails to achieve. The track itself is a centrepost of hypnotic melody that combines complementing features of doom, post metal and the band’s natural foundation of melo-death. Netzell’s vocal styles do not falter here and despite the breathing space a slower, more melody based track might offer, the weight of the band’s delivery quashes the air, providing ample emotion in its place. On the other hand, “Huntress Moon” may well be the band’s best ‘heavy’ track. Ardent riffs latch onto furious blast beats and well-phrased growls. Of all of the album’s points of refutation, it’s the percussion alone that sits above criticism.
As a whole, Garden Of Storms
is flawed, even though it’s individual elements stand well alone. Most of the issues that surface here come from idea execution and their blending into a over-saturated mess of sorts. In Mourning have built a reputation around quality music to which only a percentage of this record measures. Other issues arise in the form of studio slip, namely the bass being mixed too highly (Wait. Am I really complaining about too much
bass presence?) that washes out some of the guitar melodies during the album’s heavier sections and the cymbals to near non-existence. To this effect it’s hard to garner whether Garden Of Storms
is building to something in the band’s future releases, going through the motions and lucking out on a couple spectacular tracks or failing to achieve on both the potential and standards of music showcased on other releases. No matter which way listeners' take it, Garden Of Storms
isn’t a complete write-off, but it’s hard to contain the disappointment.