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In The Woods... - A Return To The Isle Of Men  CD (album) cover


In The Woods...


Experimental/Post Metal

2.76 | 10 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Trickster F.
Prog Reviewer
2 stars A re-release/compilation of the group's first demo.

There has been a common belief that A Return To The Isle Of Men is In The Woods...'s second full-length album, which is a false fact, therefore, making the release seem more important than it is in reality. This is simply a re-recording from 1996, containing the original five tracks from the 1993 demo Isle Of Men today, as well as two bonus tracks - Heart Of The Ages and ...And All This From Which Was And Will Never Come Again..., the latter becoming Child Of Universal Tongue on the Three Times Seven On A Pilgrimage compilation. I have also read several sources confirming that the original demo was re-released once again in 2006, although without the last, seventh track, however, there seems to be not enough attention towards the collective after they disbanded and I have no idea whether that is true or not; the career of In The Woods... remains to be a muddy, obscure one, with Internet failing as a perfect resource for finding all one would like to know about the group...

The main part of the album are the first five tracks, three of which you will not find anywhere else - them being The Wings Of My Dreamland, Tell De Døde (the only In The Woods... track with lyrics in their native language rather than English, not that you can tell the difference if you do not read the lyrics while the music is played) and Creations Of An Ancient Shape. The other two tracks - the group self-titled song and Wotan's Return, as well as the bonus track Heart Of The Ages, are all included on the group's debut full-length HEart Of The Ages. All five tracks have essentially the same recording quality and, most importantly, an atmosphere and theme that unite them all, creating a whole experience. The music is dark and quite epic, though in spite of the compositions' length, this is very far from the collective's later psychedelic, experimental output that earned them a well-deserved spot on this website. Aside from the opener, which starts as an ethereal, atmospheric instrumental before the group's trademark guitar sound comes in with spoken word, the re-release is an ahead of its time Black Metal album, and one can't help but appreciate the group's courage in producing forward-thinking music outside of the Norwegian second BM wave scene. Those were the times when they were fascinated with Bathory rather than King Crimson and Celtic Frost instead of Jefferson Airplane, and it really does show. There is thrashy drumming, not too far away from blastbeating, melodic as well as peculiar Black Metal guitar riffing and a very extreme vocal performance. The other reviewer labeled the singing style giant-bird-monster, and while I must confess I had a hearty laugh at such a comparison, I have also got to admit it is as close to reality as it gets. There are few clean vocals on the recording, and they are still not developed to the point Jan Transit, a legend amongst Progressive Metal singers, would later achieve.

In the end, one comes to the conclusion that the twenty-something minutes of exclusive material is not too exciting, yet satisfactory before the eyes of a fan of the collective, starving for more material. Indeed, In The Woods... have not gifted us with enough albums to feel their followers comfortable, and for those reasons and for that audience alone A Return To The Isle Of Men is a nice addition to their collection. However, half of the offered repertoire is present on the debut in a better produced, more mature and developed shape, therefore, making the album interesting to those eager to find out what the other three tracks are like. Moreover, if you prefer the group's later output over their early Black Metal experimentation, this album may be completely incompatible for you. If you have not begun exploring In The Woods...'s catalogue yet, then I, obviously, suggest you to stay away from purchasing this album and going with such excellent albums as Omnio, Strange In Stereo and HEart Of The Ages, especially the former.

According to the site's guidelines, it makes sense to give this release the 2-star rating, although the music here is significantly better than a "2 out of 5".

Collectors/fans only.

Trickster F. | 2/5 |


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