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In The Woods...

Experimental/Post Metal

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In The Woods... Strange in Stereo album cover
3.67 | 71 ratings | 11 reviews | 35% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1999

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Closing In (5:42)
2. Cell (4:33)
3. Vanish in the Absence of Virtue (4:16)
4. Basement Corridors (5:18)
5. Ion (5:40)
6. Generally More Worried Than Married (8:53)
7. Path of the Righteous (6:55)
8. Dead Man's Creek (7:44)
9. Titan Transcendence (5:41)
10. Shelter (0:37)
11. By the Banks of Pandemonium (7:56)

Total Time 63:15

Line-up / Musicians

- Synne Larsen / vocals
- Jan Kennet Transeth ("Ovl Svithjod") / vocals, sitar (7)
- Christian "X" Botteri / guitar
- Christer A. Cederberg / guitar
- Christoffer Michael "C M" Botteri / bass
- Anders Kobro / drums

- Oddvar "A:M" Moi / guitar (4,11)
- Lommis / keyboards (3)
- Kjell Ĺge Stoveland / viola (2,4)
- Endre Kirkesola / programming (1,4)

Releases information

CD Misanthropy Records ‎- AMAZON 020 (1999, UK)

2LP Back On Black ‎- BOBV353LP (2013, Europe)

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and to Quinino for the last updates
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IN THE WOODS... Strange in Stereo ratings distribution

(71 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(35%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (23%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

IN THE WOODS... Strange in Stereo reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars It is truly an experience listening to this record.This Norwegian band rocked out for 8 years before sadly packing it in.The sound of this album is quite heavy, lots of brooding bass lines, deep vocals, pounding drums and guitars aplenty. There is also a female singer Synne Larsen who plays an important role in the bands sound.This their final record does sound more experimental than the others, it's fairly slow paced as they contrast those dark atmospheric sections with the more heavy passages. Their masterpiece "Omnio" is for me an enjoyable, dynamic and exciting listen, while on "Strange In Stereo" they take you to an uncomfortable place and keep you there.

The first song "Closing In" really sets the tone with some amazing programming early followed by a slow, dark and heavy soundscape. Riffs come and go. "Cell" is sung by the Synne and has a real intense mood with violin. "Vanish In The Absence Of Virtue" begins with them singing together (male and female) for 30 seconds rather somberly, then the guitars come in just grinding away. Vocals return but much louder. "Basement Corridors" is slow, spooky and atmospheric, like something out of a horror movie soundtrack. Stange in stereo indeed. More violin as well. "Ion" is a great song, it really kicks in at the 2 minute mark and really from here on in this record is really incredible, it has to be heard to be believed.The best song for me is "Generally More Worried Than Married" with that great guitar sound, it smokes !

"Path Of The Righteous" has intense vocals, well intense everything, the speakers are just reverberating ! Incredibly heavy riffs ! "Dead Mans Creek" is the fourth mind blowing song in a row ! Female vocals, absolutely sonic guitars, now my heads reverberating ! "Titan Transcendence" starts with a cool intro. Great drums and male vocals. Synne comes in after 4 minutes. Amazing sound ! The last song "By The Banks Of Pandemonium" begins with him saying "Let's get this monster rolling", this is followed by a haunting soundscape. It kicks in around 1 1/2 minutes, it's still slow paced but more powerful. They increase that power 3 1/2 minutes in then it calms right down quickly.The guitar comes in sounding excellent. Heavy again after 5 1/2 minutes as vocals return with passion, before it calms down again to end it.

This truly is a journey into a strange, dark and barren place, not a location I like to stay in for a very long time, but if i'm in the right mood it's a good hair-raising place to visit.

Review by Trickster F.
5 stars You all shall take what you deserve from comfort and relief...

Having released the mind-blowing Omnio, In The Woods... found themselves in a complicated situation: it seemed that their fanbase were divided on people who were disappointed with the group abandoning their "extreme" roots, others who greatly enjoyed the album and expected another one of the same and even skeptics who thought the group's career was complete and any improvement would be impossible. Fortunately for us, the group had all the creativity and inspiration in the world to continue at the point, and what was released was a brilliant, yet, sadly, an overlooked album, if only due to the immense success of its monstrous predecessor.

The change between HEart Of The Ages and Omnio was a very easy one to notice and point out. The harsh vocals were gone, the extreme influence played a significantly less important role in the sound, being replaced by a rich, futuristic instrumentation that is more peculiar of progressive rock musicians rather than the metal scene. Conversely, the transformation between Omnio and Strange In Stereo is gruesome to describe with words. The group is still remote from the straight-forward metal scene, away from any kind of categorization box for music critics to use conveniently... The music presented is just as avantgardistic and enlightening, excellently written and there is an abundance of both female and male vocals... So, would I say Strange In Stereo is more of the same, a mere follow-up to the brilliance of Omnio? Definitely not.

First of all, Strange In Stereo is the group's most experimental album to date (and knowing that they have disbanded and it is their last studio release; ever), and they really had enough space for experimentation here - dividing the album on eleven (well, technically, ten)shorter tracks, each track being a special, independant story on its own and having almost nothing to do with the ones surrounding it. Just in case you did not know, Omnio was a single hour long epic, basically one lengthy composition made of five parts; the debut album HEart Of The Ages was crammed with bulky atmospheric epics mixed in with short "clean" tracks. In that way, the new release looks more refreshing in its structure, although one should not be cautious. The collective shows no signs of taking the simple way of writing music, as even the shorter songs are extremely satisfactory and captivating. The music takes all kinds of unexpected, unpredictable turns, always progressing on its way and taking directions you must not have been aware of before.

Now that I reach the point I am supposed to describe the music presented, I would like to start by claiming that I feel very comfortable separating the album on two parts - first six songs and subsequent ones. The reason for that is simple, the first six songs are very distinctive and almost feel like a compilation of fascinating, experimental music, whereas the last five tracks seem to be united in a successfully captured mood. The first songs on the disc may scare the listener off with the ways the group explored. We begin with Closing In, that denies everything the musicians have gone through. There are electronics, synthesized drums and unusual, uplifting vocals. It is not the most experimental composition on the album, however, as Dead Man's Creek seems to be even less conventional, with a jazz-influenced structure, bizarre performances by each singer, as well as soothing effects in the background. Cell does not exploit any of the group's explored formulas either, and is a dramatic, emotional track sung by the female half of the group's voice Synne Diana Soprana.

The choice of instruments on the album is not too ambitious, yet still holds substance in it. Besides the usual instruments exploited in rock music, there are occasional strings, a little piano, and even what sounds like mellotron on two tracks. The lyrics are also an aspect worthy of being mentioned separately. The lyrics are neither rooted in pagan myths(a trait of HEart Of The Ages), nor ridiculously abstract to understand to anyone besides the lyricist himself(I am talking about Omnio here). They are extremely personal, exploring inner conflicts and issues of the writer, often touching even the forbidden subjects. The lyrics are a crucial part of the music, just another instrument, simply put.

The production has improved significantly and so has the technical prowess of the musicians, which still does not mean they have decided to show it off rather than write excellent music. The guitar interplay is very well done, the bass is more audible than ever and delivers fascinating grooves and the drummer has reached his full potential by the release of this album.

I would like you to pay attention to the songwriting here, which features dynamic, emotional parts together with quieter interludes, but it is not just " heavy riff, acoustic interlude, heavy riff, repeat" some listeners have got used to whilst listening to certain groups of the genre. It is almost always the other way around, as sophisticated beauty is being mixed with creative wonderings of a restless mind and powerful energy of the main composer guitarist X-Botteri, whose guitar and songwriting abilities are a separate thing to mention. Regardless of his technical skill, which, let's be honest, is matched and even beaten by numerous other guitarists, is not as important as whatever lies within his mind and soul, that is the primary source of the excellence we know as In The Woods.... Omnio was a marvel, with each note seeming outstandingly impressive and having a cryptic meaning on its own, that can be interpreted by each listener in his own way according to his temper. Strange In Stereo is entirely different, as the listener is forced to stop comprehending the music and where it is going and if following it right, will easily understand that it is more about feeling the music rather than understanding its progression. One may not even tell apart a clean part from a dynamic one, as they are usually one massive "whole".

Changing the subject to the group's influences, it seems that they listened to more psychedelic and experimental music during the writing process, as it has changed a lot. There are still obvious influences from such groups as Katatonia and My Dying Bride, who seem to be a part of the inspirational source for the variety of riffs, as well as the remarkable atmosphere. The example of this influence is the third track Vanish In The Absence Of Virtue which, much like many early My Dying Bride compositions, features a doomy guitar riff that makes me smile mischievously upon each listen. This song is very emotional, sincere, featuring a duet of both singers performing together, which is achieved perfectly. The next song is, once again, drastically different from its predecessor - Basement Corridors is a bleak, depressing and also minimalistic number with Synne Diana Soprana singing in an unconventional way, which sounds reminiscent of Bjork to my ears.

The music seems to have a point, expressing various moods both with the instruments and the singers' voices. I may have to underline that Jan Transit's vocal performance on this album is by far his most impressive. Such engaging emotional songs as Generally More Worried Than Married, featuring his sincere work, is one of the reasons why Strange In Stereo is a must for any person reading this page. If the music of In The Woods... does not manage to make a stone cry, nothing will succeed. I will not go into even a more detailed analysis of the rest of the songs here, as the music of In The Woods... is not an easy thing to describe, and, most importantly, should be experienced, rather than merely overheard.

If Omnio was a journey of midday, through the adventures and issues it provides, and the search for a person's inner world, his meaning in life and a personal "everything", Strange In Stereo is a trip in the middle of the night, bleak, dark, yet just as adventurous. Not an accessible effort in any imaginable way, it will take many listens to truly sink in, although I can expect immediate appreciation on the very first encounter. Honestly speaking, the only reason why I refuse to call Strange In Stereo the best album of the collective is only because there is the "unfortunate" creation(as unfortunately as creating a masterpiece above others may be) of Omnio, an album that tends to eclipse every other effort by the group, making it difficult to delve into their other material.

Absolutely essential!

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Anekdoten from Hell?

To think, the first time I listened to "Strange in Stereo" it almost got the rare honor of being flung out the car window, an honor bestowed on only 2 other albums in my life as far as I can remember (those two shall remain nameless.) I really thought little of this at first play which is ironic because now I not only prefer it to Omnio, but I have to say it is one of my favorite progressive-metal titles. This is no predictable hour of shredding and blast drumming like you often will hear, this is a true convergence of progressive music with metal. Much stranger and probably less accessible than Omnio, SiS is a cauldron of bubbling darkness with a dense and unique sound, with mood and presence. I have to quote our own Trickster F. (Ivan) for his fabulous description of this album: "If Omnio was a journey of midday, through the adventures and issues it provides, and the search for a person's inner world, his meaning in life and a personal everything, Strange In Stereo is a trip in the middle of the night, bleak, dark, yet just as adventurous. Not an accessible effort in any imaginable way, it will take many listens to truly sink in." [Ivan] That's the best short summary I've seen of "Strange in Stereo." If you've not heard In The Woods before I would say the music occasionally approaches a heavier Anekdoten crossed with Green Carnation, just to give you a rough idea. This is gonna be a tough one to describe, but I owe this album as much.

"Closing In" opens the show with outstanding programming before the guitar/drums kick in with claustrophobic effects. The sustain on the guitar makes you feel like you're drowning. This album is all about mood and ambiance and there are tons of these minor little sound details all over the place that help build the dark drapery. The certain squall of the guitar fade, vocal intonations, chords that go this way when you expect that way, sound effects, the unique sound OF the instruments. "Cell" begins with the most delicious acoustic strumming and strange far-away viola playing. Then the female vocals come in. The male and female vocal patterns are used again here as on Omnio to great effect. They both possess sort of an off-goth snarl and waver like Siouxsie, and while at times it seems they go out of tune I have realized just how perfect the technique is, off-putting, strange yet beautiful. From the eerie relative softness of "Cell" it moves much heavier on "Vanish" with louder guitar and combined vocals. Some double bass thumping near the end remind this is a prog-metal album, at times it sounds like a heavier, more intense Anekdoten. "Basement Corridors" starts with creepy sound effects with just haunting female vocal, no band. She gets a bit operatic which is really nice. The bass and viola begin backing her ghostly vocal to perfect ends. "Ion" is a low, lumbering beast of a song, slithering through the grass with bubbly bass and very heavy guitar and drums. The guitar solo and male vocals are tortured in this track, very effectively expressing darkness. "Generally more worried than married" features some of the best guitar work on the album, varied and expressive, alternately melodic and chuggy. "Path of the Righteous" features relentless guitar sections that alternate with spacey breaks where a sitar of all things is used for a different feel. "Dead Man's Creek" employs the effects-pedal big time for the background guitar and the track features a guest doing some slide guitar. There's a sweet circular but skewed main riff in this song that makes me smile every time. A break in the middle leaves a clearing for some Djam Karet style space weirdness. The female vocal and guitar work coming after this break are just plain sexy as hell. "Titan Transcendence" starts with echoed, phased clean guitars conversing quietly to background drumming, very cool. Slowly vocals wails are heard in the background. "Shelter" is an intro to the closer "By the Banks of Pandemonium." Building to a climactic fury with great guitar throughout, it breaks to a subdued farewell with about 90 seconds of sadly picked acoustic guitar.

Strange in Stereo is one hell of an original album. An anonymous web reviewer at a large retail site wrote some phrases that sum up what bizarre music this is: "Passion mingled in sweat.a voracious album.a complete transformation both in themes and in musical direction. In Omnio psychedelic stylings were used as a metaphor for the forces of nature- both mental and worldly-here they are in the service of a backward longer do they exalt fertility or benign nature but are now deeply immersed in world of sin and inversion.the primal man of large and robust instincts is now defeated.enter the modern man."

This album is a good example of what prog metal can achieve when it breaks down some of the predictable barriers of overused growls, shredding, and blast-drumming. I'm not saying those elements are bad, but rather that their overuse by some groups gets tiring, necessitating a mind-blow like this. As far as I'm concerned it puts to shame some of its competition. Not an easy album to embrace initially its beauty is revealed after several plays and acceptance of its inherent oddity. A must for fans of psych-metal without melodic sing-along intentions. It wisely doesn't attempt to better Omnio, but rather elevates both albums by complimenting it. Bravo to ITW.

Review by Prog-jester
2 stars As many other bands of the brand new 90s genre, Doom-Death Metal IN THE WOODS soon gave up what they've begun with. "Strange in Stereo" shows the band in it's transitional phase, that's why the whole piece sounds a bit unsure. Some tracks have their moments, but most of them fail to impress me. Another problem I have with IN THE WOODS' material is lack of good memorable melodies. The whole stuff is pretty atmospheric and well-played, I admit it, but who says that's enough? If you're interested with what Doom-Death Metal was becoming in late 90s, better check ANATHEMA or KATATONIA albums from those times first - this one may disappoint you.
Review by b_olariu
3 stars Third album of this intristing band from Norway and final one aswell before disbanding in early this decade. The album released in summer of 1999 named Strange in stereo is a real strange album belive me, not every day I have the chance to listen to such quirky but in same time very well produce and well played album from this field. Surprise is , I don't realy think this is better then previous work who was an oustanding release, This time In the woods turn even more to ghotic sound, the metal elements are aswell here but in less quantity. Even the voice is a little bit less intristing then on Omnio, but good. The musicianship is ok, but the band now run out of great ideas, they try to bring it to the same level of Omnio, but thet don't quite succeded on every piece. From all 11 piece only half are for real intrest, the other half are between good and in places even some mediocre arrangements. So I will not go with the crowd by saying this is a masterpiece or close, is a good album but nothing more. I prefer 100 times more Omnio. Anyway this Strange in stereo is another worthy album by this norvegian band but less captivating than before. 3 stars , nothing more, nothing less, still intristing in places..
Review by EatThatPhonebook
3 stars Norwegian band "In The Woods" releases in 1999, after the near perfect "Omnio", "Strange In Stereo", their last, triumphant album. And I must say, I expected something a lot worse. This is a great, haunting album, with songs that easily beat some of Omnio's songs.

If "Omnio" was a journey through man's inner fears, "Strange In Stereo" is a journey through the most concrete of our fears, a terrifying trip in the deep dungeons of the night. As I made clear, the album is extremely dark, tense, doomy, sinister, but also haunting, passionate, and a little dreamy in some moments. The structure of the album is enjoyable, but the idea of many, short songs (eleven in total), didn't exactly thrill me, especially because I knew the concept of the album before even listening to it.

Some songs are amazing: the first song, "Closing In", is a tense, heavy song, with heavy guitars and dramatic vocals, typical of the band. "Cell" is another terrific song, with haunting melodies, calm but very sinister atmosphere, and great experimentation and performance by the female vocalist. "Generally More Worried...." is another masterpiece, the longest and most distorted song of the album. Some passages here are unforgettable, the vocals are sublime. Awesome song. "Path Of The Righteous" is another one of my favorites, a great intro, great, dark melody, awesome experimentation and arrangements. "Titan Transcendence" is the last great song. Here the arrangements are what really make the song so amazing.

The rest of the songs are all good, but not as much worth mentioning as these above.

An excellent addiction to any prog or metal, but be prepared to be overflowed by darkness.

Review by sleeper
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.

Review by Warthur
2 stars Strange In Stereo finds In the Woods once again trying to find a progressive take on the gothic metal sound originally set forth by the likes of Anathema, My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost. This time, the influence of gothic rock is even more apparent, to the point where some of the male vocals sound like a shaky impression of Andrew Eldritch from the Sisters of Mercy - and since Andrew Eldritch's singing style tends to sound like a bad impression of David Bowie, the ultimate impression given is of a bad photocopy of a bad photocopy.

And that, to be honest, is what the music sounds like too - a stab at a style of metal which at the time was getting moderate commercial returns and a glowing critical reception, without really producing something that convinces me that the band's hearts are in it. I'll stick to the debut, thanks.

Latest members reviews

3 stars The doomiest album of the three released by In the Woods, and also less experimental than Omnio. There are however, some new influences, for example the first track "Closing in" has some industrial subtones. "Cell" and "Vanish in the absence of virtue" are absolutely mournful with slow rhythm, s ... (read more)

Report this review (#2271792) | Posted by sgtpepper | Sunday, October 20, 2019 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Is it really possible to review an album like this? I could go track by track, but it would be foolish to review this album that way because it is closer to one big song than a collection of songs. You lose so much by listening to each song of this very cohesive album individually. This is essenti ... (read more)

Report this review (#142802) | Posted by spacemetal | Monday, October 8, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This Album is one of the unique albums i've ever heard in my entire life. it's got a distinctive feel to it, very expressive in all aspects. programming on 'Closing in' is unbelievable, the best ever, i could go on and on about this song but this is the prominent thing about it, the Viola a ... (read more)

Report this review (#33411) | Posted by kniprekcor | Wednesday, January 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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