It was a complete albeit lovely surprise to find out recently that the legendary In The Woods... had not only reformed but were releasing a brand new album - their first in a whopping sixteen years since the compilation album Three Times Seven On A Pilgrimage (and their first full length album since 1999's Strange In Stereo). This brought up many questions with the first being how would it sound? Would the band recapture their early atmospheric black metal sound or pick up where they left off sixteen years with another album of majestic prog metal? Who would still be in the band from the previous line up? And most importantly would it sound any good?
The majority of the classic line up return. Guitarist Oddvar A.M. sadly passed away in 2013 and frontman Jan Transit has pretty much retired from music. Fronting the band as well as playing guitars and keyboards is the very able James Fogarty (of The Meads Of Asphodel, Jaldaboath and countless other projects). Musically Pure kind of picks up where they left things in 2000 although with a less avant-garde sound than Strange In Stereo. A stunning blend of dark melancholic doominess and classic prog-rock with some extreme metal elements mixed in.
The band doesn't retread old ground though with this album sounding very current and even forward-thinking. I won't recommend individual songs as like the previous albums in the In The Woods... discography (and like any good album) this needs to be heard in its entirety. So sit back, turn up the volume and be prepared to be taken on a musical journey through light and shade and through hope and sorrow. A huge welcome back to In The Woods... 9/10
Skreamer: King Of Crows (Self Released)
London metalcore heavyweights return with their second album King Of Crows and have released the album as a free download with a lot of coverage from major 'metal' magazine. The album is chock full of brutal groove heavy metalcore anthems with a scattering of nu metal influences throughout. The songs on King Of Crows are short, sharp and straight to the point wasting no time in bludgeoning your senses which like the rest of the album has a unrelenting political edge.
They are also nicely varied in style from the driving groove of The Awakening, the grunge-influenced introspection of Vacancy, the rap rock of Welcome To Paradise to the all out nastiness of Pig Feed. Even with all these different sounds and influences coming together the album has a nice flow to it and doesn't sound disjointed. It's both equally accessible and brutally heavy and should appeal of fans of mainstream and underground metal alike. 7/10
Jinjer: King Of Everything (Napalm Records)
King Of Everything is the second album by Ukranian band Jinjer and their first release on Napalm Records. Jinjer's sound can be described as a mix of djent-esque groove metal and metalcore with cleanly sung choruses and a few extreme metal influences. The big question is does this mixing pot of styles work? Unfortunately not. Considering the amount of styles mixed together this album just sounds completely uninspiring and bland. The guitar riffs are of the standard chug-groove style with a few flourishes of technicality here and there but nothing that really grabs your attention.
The cleanly sung choruses are distinctly uncatchy and unmemorable. The only songs that really show any promise are the singles Words Of Wisdom and I Speak Astronomy and the very different samba-esque closer Beggar's Dance but these cannot salvage this album. There are some positives though, drummer Vladislav Ulasevish puts in a great performance with an impressive use of double kick and blast beats but the real stand out is vocalist Tatiana Shmailyuk who has an incredible range from deep deathly growls, throat ripping screams to impressive clean vocals.
Despite good performance and one or two interesting moments King Of Everything is a underwhelming and unmemorable experience. These guys definitely have some incredible talent but sadly haven't released an album that realises their potential. 4/10