It begins in a forest, as shown on the cover; ever melancholic with white-purple pastels. A private place is this land of wood, where you can share yourself with sounds and set ablaze a peaceful, yet luring surrounding. Those majestic sounds, kings and queens of nature, rushing between thick layers of trees, running away just to come back again and get wrapped around you, as if to enable you to touch them and becoming as one. This narrative suits well In The Woods… debut full-length album, as their name suggests, where the music is rushing and running and weeping, with the calm energy of a forest-sprites. The well-known Norwegian spirit breathes throughout the four directions of these musical skies, in the first incarnation of the ITW’s unique path – the unification of blurred strings, none particular of any genre, deep multi-layered black metal guitars and the gentle melodic touch of clean guitars, all entangled in quite clear production that lets the guitar section breathe its dirt. The singing follows this frame, performing brilliantly nightly screams and silky chants. Hence, one can track easily the very foundations, on which later the liberated and free spirits of ITW albums will be constructed on, like gently erasing the borders between genres, such as marrying black metal roots, doom metal windy touches and prog rock drops, gathered so naturally, neighboring as if no church has ever burned to ashes. This is one of the very important contributions to the eerie-breed-called “dark metal”, a mélange of styles barely definable (hence the elusive title), use as shallow and simplistic weapon to avoid tackling deep complicated music as this. However, maybe ITW does not need any definition, as a large part of Avantgarde metal bands, rather let the music speak for its own and not analyzed into thin drawers. Indeed, the music here is a puzzle, but structured together as one unbreakable unit, yet anyone with sharp ears can delve into it and discover its careful composing and fusion kitchen.
“Heart of the Ages” is a clear search of a path to follow yet with a clear direction, and as the epitome of this contradiction it consists of songs with quite similar yet irregular structures, such as the theme song, that begins with a storm of marching guitars with psychedelic synth seasoning, on the joint of black and doom strings within prog-black-doom riffs, entering the saddest riff that in my opinion ITW have ever composed (1:45) to break into a calm break, just to explode again by the guitars and so and so. However the similarity of those structures differentiates in the parts that hold them together: ITW experiment with their influences back and forth, building pieces of what can only be described as black-prog metal. “Wotan’s Return” is an excellent example of a song based on that combination, a roaring pagan epos that visions the unfolding soul that dwells in the vast embracement of nature. There are no equal parts in this song, rather ongoing shorter parts that suddenly flourish and disappear, only to arrive again later in ghostly shades. ITW also give a first glimpse to their bewitching instrumental passages, such as “Mourning the Death of Aase” and “Pigeon”, a sheer deliver of ethereal emotions, with the help of a high female voice and a piano. As a debut album, after two demos, “Heart of the Ages” showcases ITW as a mature band, who doesn’t know the meaning of artistic fear to explore and to rejuvenate, and not becoming addicted to monotonous movements as some of their fellow countrymen.
All in all, this music is personal and loyal to the dim and serene atmosphere which rules the Norwegian lands. It doesn’t less of the high innovative skills of the band, here fully exposure, delivering the notion of a bright future.
01 – Yearning The Seeds Of A New Dimension
02 – Heart Of The Ages
03 – …In The Woods: Prologue/Moments Of…/Epilogue
04 – Mourning The Death Of Aase
05 – Wotan’s Return
06 – Pigeon
07 – The Divinity Of Wisdom