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October Tide - In Splendor Below Award winner

October Tide
In Splendor Below
by Justin "Witty City' Wittenmeier at 11 April 2019, 5:31 AM

If you like Doom Metal then Sweden’s OCTOBER TIDE probably doesn’t need an introduction especially for KATATONIA fans.  OCTOBER TIDE started as an additional project for KATATONIA vocalist Jonas Renske and then guitarist Frederik Norrman.  Over the years, members have come and gone but NORRMAN has been the one constant on each release.  “In Splendor Below,” is the band’s six full length, having also released a demo.

Immediately upon the first track, “I, the Polluter,” blasting through my speakers, I noticed this album is very aggressive compared to their previous.  Although definitely still within the realm of Doom, they definitely up the intensity on the Death Metal side of their sound.  This is no doubt due, in no small part, to vocalist Alexander Hogbom, from Death Metal stalwarts DEMONICAL.  That band had a good year, releasing the badass CHAOS MANIFESTO album in 2018.  He is clearly still riding high from that album, as he is in fine form once again on “In Splendor Below.”  Any Death Metal fans that don’t care for Doom, would probably find a lot to enjoy here. Jonas and Johan make up quite the rhythm section for the album’s heavier moments with their drums and bass, respectively.

The second track, “We Died In October,” starts life with melodic tones before shifting gears into intense, slow Doom tinged with melody.  I must praise the guitar tone on the album because it is extremely sharp yet decidedly potent its heavy and often times dense riffs. The halfway point of the album (give or take) is the fifth track, “Our Famine,” the best track on the album.  The first minute or so has that classic OCTOBER TIDE sound but the song continues to progress darker the farther in it goes.  The middle portion is a dirge of heavy riffs, lead guitar, and brutal vocals. This portion fades away nicely to a clean guitar break that builds back up into a monolith of sound.   The album’s very atmosphere is impressive because of the approach the band takes—despite the heavier direction, “In Splendor Below” is an album that achieves its sound goals without many keys or long passages.

Seconds,” is an example of this aspect—the mood and flow of the track is generated by the melodic guitars and the growls working together rather than against each other.  The guitar melodies, especially towards the middle and ends of the song are among the best moments of the album. “In Splendor Below,” is very focused—not one second is wasted and each idea has a place within the structure, allowing them to get the songs at a decent length without stretching them out with excess bloat.  That makes this album a brisk 44 minutes and 51 seconds in length, allowing for multiple listens in a short amount of time.   Fortunately, the songs are more than well done enough to allow for that to happen. This is no doubt one of the most anticipated Doom releases of the year and it is worth the hype.  I don’t think it quite reaches the heights of their first two releases but no doubt it is their best since 2010’s “A Thin Shell.”

Songwriting:9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. I, the Polluter
2. We Died In October
3. Ogonblick av nad
4. Stars Starve Me
5. Our Famine
6. Guide My pulse
7. Seconds
8. Envy The Moon
Lineup:
Fredrik “North” Norrman – Guitars
Mattias “Kryptan” Norrman – Guitars
Alexander Hogbom – Vocals
Johan Jonsegard – Bass
Jonas Skold - Drums
Record Label: Agonia Records
     


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