Bleak and intensive, consuming and compelling, Tunnel of No Light the new album from melodic extreme metallers October Tide is a dramatic senses encroaching encounter which leaves a residue of exhaustion and deep satisfaction within the listener. It is a hungry and extensive journey of doom sculpted death metal malevolence, a vehicle for suffering and defiled hope to spread venomous beauty and overwhelming intensity through a magnetic and destructive embrace.
Formed in 1995 by Jonas Renkse and Fred Norrman after a temporary dissolvement of Katatonia, the band soon gained string and widespread recognition for their albums Rain Without Rain and Grey Dawn in 1997 and ‘99 respectively. Despite their success and the strong acclaim upon them especially the second album, which saw Mårten Hansen of A Canorous Quintet replacing Renkse on vocal duties, the return of Katatonia meant the band was put on permanent hiatus. 2010 though saw October Tide return to the studio with the resulting Candlelight Records released A Thin Shell, a heavyweight expanse of seven doom-laden intrusions produced by Jonas Kjellgren (Scar Symmetry) which whipped up again impressive responses from fans and media. The departure of two members last year saw the addition of bassist Mattias Norrman (ex-Katatonia) and vocalist Alexander Högbom (Volturyon, Spasmodic) alongside guitarists Fred Norrman and Emil Alstermark, and drummer Robin Bergh, the quintet soon after beginning the recording of their fourth album, again with Kjellgren.
The Pulverised Records released album encroaches on the ear initially with a deliberate prowl and weighing up of the victim with the start of Of Wounds To Come, guitars and rhythms probing and provoking with fiery breath but restrained energy. Sure of the target they relax into an elevated but still lumbering stance as riffs and vocals abrase the air and an underlying persistent niggle offers its understated temptation. Into its stride the riffs sculpt an intensive melancholic breath with leviathan features whilst the drums and bass continue to stalk with intensive mass and intent. The landscape of the confrontation compellingly shifts and continues to paint a sonic narrative whilst the emotive depths of despair and forlornness are heightened with each passing potent second. It is an impressive start employing thoughts and most of the senses whilst its death metal coursed surface thrust at times belies the invention beneath whilst equally framing it.
Our Constellation opens up with a ‘lighter’ progressive air, the guitars once again designing an impacting setting for mind and passions to decide the narrative whilst the punchy rhythms of Bergh are crisp and resonating to coax further incitement. Like its predecessor the track has no fear of evolving its presence and stretching its imagination though arguably it prolongs its presence too much to defuse some of the achieved impact. Both Emptiness Fulfilled and Caught In Silence continue the strong capture of attention and its approving reception, though certainly with the first fail, to spark the strength of reaction as the previous two. The second of the pair presses firmly whilst allowing its richness of melodic enterprise to flame brightly and engagingly within the smothering intensity for a rewarding and striking union, and again dynamic presence.
Admittedly across the many tracks there is a strong surface familiarity which defuses the individuality of the songs and a less than adventurous heart to their sombre and sobering grinding doom fuelled persuasion, especially notable in the likes of The Day I Dissolved and Watching The Drowners, but when there are songs such as previously mentioned Of Wounds To Come and Caught In Silence as well as the twisted invention and biting ruin of In Hopeless Pursuit and the blackened beauty of Adoring Ashes, both songs closing the album, it is impossible not to be enticed into the depths of the album on a constant basis.
Undoubtedly for fans of bands such as Katatonia, Daylight Dies, and In Mourning, Tunnel of No Light continues the strong and welcome return of October Tide just without really sparking any major fires inside the passions this time around..
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