For about a decade, it seemed like there would never be a third album by Sweden's October Tide, who recorded two albums in the 1990s (Rain Without End in 1995 and their 1999 release, Grey Dawn, after that) but were inactive during most of the 2000s. Then, in 2009, guitarist Fredrik Norrman surprised the extreme metal world by forming a new October Tide lineup without singer Jonas Renkse, who he knew from Katatonia and co-founded October Tide with in 1995. Recruiting singer Tobias Netzell, bassist Jonas Kjellgren (Scar Symmetry, Carnal Forge), and drummer Robin Bergh (formerly of Amaran), Norrman didn't go for any major stylistic changes. In fact, 2010's A Thin Shell pretty much picks up where October Tide's 1990s recordings left off -- and that means taking an approach that is as melodic as it is heavy. A dark, somber, melancholy atmosphere prevails throughout this 42-minute CD, which combines elements of doom metal, death metal, and black metal. Vocally, A Thin Shell is consistently extreme; death metal's Cookie Monster growl and black metal's sinister rasp are equally prominent, and clean vocals are nowhere to be found. But musically, A Thin Shell isn't so extreme. For all its heaviness and aggression, A Thin Shell is actually quite musical and nuanced compared to most of the extreme metal that has come out of Scandinavia. Nor is it ultra-fast; while thrashiness and lightning-speed tempos are the norm in death metal and black metal, October Tide's doom/death/black hybrid favors heaviness at a decidedly comfortable pace. In other words, A Thin Shell is death metal/black metal vocally but doom metal musically (even without the Black Sabbath-obsessed riffs that doom metal, like stoner rock, is known for). The end results are highly rewarding, if a tad predictable -- and A Thin Shell leaves no doubt that there is life after Renkse for October Tide.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson