Review Summary: Cinematic Poetry
Swedish alternative metalcore outfit Imminence have returned with their fourth full-length studio album ‘Heaven In Hiding’, which follows up their 2019 magnum opus ‘Turn The Light On’. After finally coming into their own and exploding onto the scene with a revamped style and newfound theatrics with that album, I was eager to hear what was next for the band, who have quickly risen to being a top-tier act in the scene. ‘Heaven in Hiding’ delivers on every expectation set by it’s first singles such as the chilling title track and the raging “Temptation”, full of djenty metalcore instrumentation and ambient melodic soundscapes as well as one of drummer Peter Hanström’s best performances of his career. Guitarist Harald Barrett displays some of his heaviest and most technical riffs to date on the album, highlighted in the aggressive breakdown of “Moth To A Flame” and the off-kilter riffage of “Enslaved”.
Eddie Berg proves his place as one of the most talented vocalists in the scene, with soaring cleans and haunting screams that drip with pure passion and emotion from every pore. This type of authenticity is exhibited all throughout the entire record, with the heart-wrenching ballad “Alleviate” being the climatic outpouring of the desperation and urgency of its lyrics, and is the perfect representation of the record’s central theme: Searching within yourself for hope and relief and answers during times of depression and grief and pain. Berg has always been open about his struggles with depression and mental health in his lyrics, but on ‘Heaven In Hiding’ he feels more vulnerable than ever before, with the album being their darkest overall to date and diving deep into the psyche of someone who is weighed down by the burden of his own reality and lifelong battle with his own mental health. This dark imagery comes to life on “Surrender”, pondering if it would take selling his soul to even feel something or the toll of metaphorical and literal war he has waged on himself as doubts settle in, as the record drowns in lyrical depth and the weight of its own subject matter.
The mental and spiritual journey that encompasses the record is summarized and perfectly encapsulated in “Chasing Shadows”, a heavy and melodic track that evokes biblical references to depict the difficulty Berg is facing as he searches for the answers within. Wrestling with the concepts of the Devil and God and longing for guidance through “The Valley of Shadow of Death”, the song is Eddie crying out for mercy and salvation from the “Ghost” that haunts his thoughts and fears.
‘Heaven in Hiding’ is an intense album, it’s a grower- unlike it’s predecessor, it requires time to fully enjoy, understand, and process. The record feels almost overwhelming at times- partially due to the flow of it’s tracklist, as well as it’s overall content, and despite the fact that I’m a big fan of the band and it not being too different from past work, it took me several listens initially to get into. The record despite all of it’s addictive hooks and pummeling riffs, most of the time follows a fairly straight-forward formula, even to the point where listeners may get a sense of deja vu when hearing the closing breakdowns to “Chasing Shadows” or “Heaven In Hiding”. This pattern and structure does leave a bit to be desired in an almost 50 minute-long album, but it makes the songs that don’t follow the formula stand out so much more. “This Too Shall Pass”, also known as “این نیز بگذرد“, is the perfect example of this. A gripping ballad that explodes with experimentalism and creativity, featuring enthralling instrumentation influenced by middle-eastern culture and complex cinematic production. It’s a beautiful track and certainly one of the most underrated cuts in the band’s discography to date.
As I started listening more and diving deeper into the record was when it finally clicked for me- this album is full of subtlety and nuance and meant to be listened to in its entirety with full attentiveness. Henrik Udd’s masterful production and knack for hidden theatrics comes to life in the more lush and mellow moments of the record, elevating the sonic experience in a way nobody else could. On the surface, the record can certainly feel samey and repetitive, but it’s not without it’s own intricacies and intentions. The album is intentionally crafted at times to be more simple instrumentally, oftentimes to accentuate and elevate the emotional lyrics and bring the vocal performance to to the forefront. Once I started actually listening to the lyrics, it changed my perspective on the record in its entirety- the lyrics broke me down on an emotional level. It resonated with my soul in a way few albums do. In the past two years of my life I’ve felt the same exact feelings, had the same exact thoughts, and gone through the same mental processes that Eddie’s lyrics so authentically discuss. The search for Heaven in hiding amidst the tribulations and hardships, desperate for the light at the end of the tunnel. As someone who struggles with depression- and at times pretty severely- hearing the genuineness and raw sincerity on the topic expressed in such a powerful way hit home. The album actually left me in tears on a multiple occasions and the emotional connection I discovered even after listening multiple times through is a testament to its strengths and its repeatability.
‘Heaven In Hiding’ is a dark and cathartic expression of cinematic poetry tackling the oftentimes unseen or ignored battle within one’s self, searching for light and hope amidst it’s lowest moments and riding on the edge of bitter hopelessness and uneasy optimism. It’s one of my favorite metal releases so far this year and a worthy successor to ‘Turn The Light On’, even if it doesn’t quite live up to the high bar it’s predecessor set.