Album Review: In the Woods… — “Diversum”

in the woods - diversum

If they had done nothing but their seminal 1997 release Omnio, Norway’s In the Woods… would still sit at the table of the genre’s movers and shakers, creating a fresh mix of black metal, doom, folk, and progressive metal that didn’t sound like anyone else at the time. The 17 year gap between albums that led to 2016’s Pure was almost too much to bear, but the wait was worth it, and since then the band has shown it doesn’t intend to let that gap come again, even as members come and go. Latest offering Diversum may feature a new vocalist in Bernt Fjellestad, but the core from 2018’s Cease the Day (reviewed here) remains and the music is just as driving, somber, and heavy as anything the band has released to date.

That heaviness and consistency comes at some cost, though. For the most part gone are the weirder, more out there moments that would come as surprises in the band’s earlier work as well as the more overt black metal influences. What remains, however, is a steadfast consistency to melancholic doom that evokes twilight-laden melodies that recall bands like Green Carnation (an obvious influence due to their link) and bands like Daylight Dies, gone too soon. Opening track “The Coward’s Way” lights the way for the majority of the album, alternating between raspy, blackened death vocals and clean vocal lines that hue close to a straight line of notes. When the track slows down further for the solo there’s a majestic quality that’s undeniable.

The emphasis on dark melodic metal continues throughout Diversum. The martial opening to “We Sinful Converge” builds to some dark, crushing doom riffs before moving into more somber waters segueing into the kind of anthemic choruses the band has excelled at since their return. Atmosphere has always been key to their sound, and whether it’s the way the clean guitars chime against the sustained power chords and Fjellestad’s vocal melodies on standout track “The Malevolent God” which boasts some of the best vocals on Diversum, clean or dirty, or the driving attack of “A Wonderful Crisis” In the Woods… makes sure you’re feeling the twilight dusk of their embrace, so to speak.

In the Woods… photo by Runar Haugeland

It’s hard though to not notice the uniformity of their songwriting: clean/acoustic intro, usually against distorted chords, heavier moments that transition to clean, anthemic choruses, all of which settle something in the mid-paced tempo range. Still, when execution is this strong it’s hard to argue, and Diversum offers enough of what I love about In the Woods… to keep coming back for more.

– Chris

Diversum will be available November 25 from Soulseller Records. For more information on In the Woods… check out their Facebook and Instagram pages.

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