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Album review: In Mourning – Garden Of Storms

Death metal fans have a lot to thank Sweden for; having played an instrumental role in birthing the genre and the incredible bands that have since come out of the country. So, it is no surprise then that Swedish progressive death metal band In Mourning’s latest release is a prime example of what Swedish metal bands do best.

The fifth album for the band, ‘Garden Of Storms’, closes out the trilogy of albums that started way back in 2012 with, ‘The Weight of Oceans’, with the second part ‘Afterglow’ released in 2016. Of the album, the band has said this third instalment feels more solid, honest and complete than their previous releases.  So, does this album disprove the adage that bad things come in threes?

Opening track Black Storm gets the album off to a brutal start with a driving introduction leading into brutal growls from Tobias Netzell and Björn Pettersson. Three minutes into the seven-and-a-half-minute track, the listener is finally treated to Netzell’s beautiful clean melodies. The song chops and changes for its entirety and sets the theme for the whole album, which is fitting because the band has said that the album has many influences fused into the foundation of melodic death metal it is so well known for. Continuing the trend of absolute thrashing songs, second song Yields of Sand is another highlight. The song begins with Netzell’s soothing vocals from the first beat, lasting for almost a minute until an ominous bass line comes in, followed by the brutal growls. This song is another example of swapping and changing with it going back and forward between growls and cleans effortlessly. This song is also a prime example of the progressive metal influences that litter this album.

After the brutality of the first two songs, Hierophant has a slightly different feeling, almost a bit old school metal.  But fans, do not despair, the band has taken this style and given it their flair and this song is one of many that features an epic guitar solo. If looking for something more like the band’s previous songs, fans will enjoy Huntress Moon that is a homage to the original sound. This song is seven minutes of hard-hitting, growling intensity with no clean melodies at all.

An incredible, beautiful highlight comes from the slow burner Magenta Ritual which takes a break and showcases soulful melodies with a few growls scattered in. There is a beautiful minute-long instrumental break, which by the end of, the music feels as if it is suspended in the air before erupting back into heavy guitars, drums and growls.

Every member of In Mourning is incredibly talented, and each instrument brings so much to each song. There are several face-melting guitar solos, most notably during Black Storm, Huntress Moon and The Lost Outpost. Tribunal of Suns has a quieter moment that shows the talents of bassist Sebastian Svalland and drummer Joakim Strandberg Nilsson. The fact that three out of five members of this band play guitar means that the sound is vast throughout and the drumming is relentless.

Speaking of The Lost Outpost, it would be remiss to not make special mention of the nearly nine-and-a-half-minute journey that is this closing song. What a way to finish an album. This song has it all and changes so many times it is almost numerous songs in one. It has soaring guitar riffs, an ominous melancholy feel at the beginning, growls, even more intense growls, cleans that show off Netzell’s range, a part that almost has an almost middle eastern feel to the riffs, and choir-like and operatic vocals. There are walls of sound where every instrument is heard, followed by lone guitar moments. After all that, the song fades off on one note leaving the listener flattened but enamoured by what they just heard. 

The sound and influences of this album are not the only changes that occurred, with Nilsson and Svalland joining the band in 2018. The band also went back to their roots recording with Jonas Kjellgren who was responsible for their sound before ‘Afterglow’. The band say that this album goes from: “Doomy metal riffs, blasting drumbeats and deep growling vocals, to calm breezes of clean flowing melodies and harmonies” and this is such a perfect summation.

This album has everything a melodic death metal album should have – brutal growls and screams, unrelenting instruments, dark lyrics about giants crushing the ocean and sun and getting lost and devoured by a storm, along with heartbreaking, beautiful melodies. In Mourning manage to inject their flair and pull together a wide range of influences and make them their own. This album is a journey that will pull you in and have you hooked from the start.

★★★

Garden Of Storms is out now via Agonia Records. It can be purchased here.

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