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In The Woods... - Strange In Stereo CD (album) cover

STRANGE IN STEREO

In The Woods...

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.62 | 49 ratings

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sleeper
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Strange In Stereo is the third and final studio album released by Norwegian Progressive Metal leaders In the Woods... and offers a very different take to their style of music than previous efforts HEart of the Ages and Omnio whilst still being recognisably In the Woods....

For their second album Omnio, In the Woods... moved from the predominant Black Metal leanings of their early years and début album to a more Doom Metal laced affair. For Strange in Stereo they maintain the Doom Metal aspects whilst coming at them from an altogether different angle, creating an effectively very different sound. Largely gone are the long, epic tracks that would twist and turn and in their place are shorter, more "song oriented" pieces. These songs show a far greater melding between the lyrics, and their delivery, and the music with a more atmospheric approach being the order of the day. Songs like Closing In, Cell, Generally More Worried than Married and Path of the Righteous exemplify there new style by starting out with a basic tune and building it up to the meat of the song before de-constructing back down again.

The songs themselves are more varied than in the past as well. The two long songs Generally More Worried than Married and By the Banks of Randemonium in some ways hark back to the long epics of previous albums whilst melding in the new sensibilities creating songs that feature atmospheric build ups to full metal head banging session in the middle. Basement Corridors provides a haunting and melancholic piece comprised entirely of vocals from the peerless Synne Soprana (who was effectively a full time member by now), bass and and an excellent viola improvisation from Kjell Age Stoveland. The rest of the songs tend to be somewhere in between, with a couple on the more atmospheric side (Cell, Vanish in the Absence of Virtue, Titan Transcendence) and those with a more heavy style like Closing In, Path of the Righteous and Dead Man's Creek.

If had to compare this to any other album, it would probably be Anathema's second release The Silent Enigma, with the two of them sharing similar aspects, but with clear differences between them. In many ways this is the most experimental album that In the Woods... have released, taking those aspects that can be found in the aforementioned Anathema release and adding them to their existing sound and adding in a few new ideas of their own. Most prominent of them is that this album marked the first time that guitarist X Botteri has taken his guitar soundscapes to heart and used them as an integral aspect of the music, something that will become an even more noticeable feature on the first Green Carnation album, a band he was initially a part of and incidentally restarted around this time as well. One final point is that the production on this album is far better than that of it's predecessor. The rather flat sound of Omnio distinctly held that otherwise excellent album back from being awarded the full 5 stars from me but on here its very dynamic and full. Softer parts are quiet, the big chunky riffs are crushing and there's a rather large spectrum in between, with lots of space and clarity for the instruments. This is the kind of thing I want to here in an album, production wise (though some specific styles do have exceptions).

In general the material is very strong but I get the feeling that if they had decided to stick around for one more album of original material we might have got something even better. Closing In, Basement Corridors, Generally More Worried than Married, Path of the Righteous, Titan Transcendence and By the Banks of Randemonium will go down as some of the absolute best songs this band has written and composed, whilst most of the rest will be remembered as strong songs as well. However, Ton always fails to stick in the memory for me and Shelter doesn't seem to serve much purpose. Overall a very good album that I find myself playing regularly and enjoying greatly every time and comes very close to matching Omnio in terms of quality. I'll give this a 4.5 star rating, and richly deserved.

sleeper | 4/5 |

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