Following their return from hiatus in 2014, much to the delight of a sharp, in-the-know fanbase, Norway’s In The Woods… showed a glorious return to form with 2016’s Pure (Debemur Morti), an album that wasn’t a re-treading of past glories, but an alternate and matured direction for the band that highlighted their esoteric nature. Ever the shape-shifters, latest release Cease The Day (Debemur Morti) sees further subtle alterations, in what is their most commercially ambitious and accessible (within reason) to date.
Not that Cease The Day is a streamlining of their sound, or a sell-out before fans get worried, but this certainly shows plentiful signs of refinement, with fewer abstruse moments throughout and a heightened sense of the anthemic, whilst maintaining that grandiose streak of theirs. Whilst still encompassing a towering range in their sound, the more psychedelic influences are less prominent than they were on Pure, yet is still huge in scale.
Album opener ‘Empty Streets’ shows a human fragility in its opening notes with James Fogarty’s deep vocals soaring over contemplative folk touches before it ascends in to colossal Doom and then further down into more icy Black Metal.
It is this kind of basis and structure on which the majority of the album is built on, mostly veering between powerful and dynamic Enslavedesque Black Metal and the emotive, often frail, Doom streak of the Peaceville Three, but in a way that feels more uplifting than depressive.
Whilst in this sense their approach becomes somewhat more concise, Cease The Day still maintains its progressive nature and still holds a lot of excess, which at times proves a weakness when they seem to extend songs more than necessary; but even this is a minor issue when its contents are so immersive and mesmerising.
In The Woods… have proven time and again that they move to the beat of their own drum, and continuing to diverge again, even in a subtle manner, is of little surprise. Cease The Day is a majestic and sophisticated work which still holds considerable diversity, and despite needing some cutting down, shows a more human and heartening quality amongst its frozen atmosphere.