In the Woods...

Strange in Stereo

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As hinted at on Omnio, Norway's In The Woods has taken yet another step away from metal. First, they have broken with black metal entirely, and secondly, they have perhaps left the genre altogether in order to create a dark, swirling, heavy rock music all their own. Utilizing many of the same tactics they pioneered on Omnio, such as the use of a full string quartet alongside the band, In the Woods have taken further liberties in their instrumentation: sitars, gongs, drum loops, and keyboard programming, as well as a pedal steel guitar have been incorporated into their sound. On paper it sounds dreadful, in the grooves it is positively seductive and powerful. Picture if you will the Sisters of Mercy if they could actually play, and decided to write some real songs, or the Fields of the Nephilim if they decided to open up their song structure a bit. Acoustic and electric guitars caress, woo, and careen off one another on tracks such as "Vanish in the Absence of Virtue," "Generally More Worried Than Married," and on "Cell," with its Eastern melody draped over a distinctly Western harmonic structure. All the while the mood is one of loss informed by grief, and the unwillingness to give an inch to anything that might pull one out of the human cellar of dark emotions before it is time. The meld of masculine and feminine vocals is nothing if not breathtaking, and the entire proceeding is seductive in the same way Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleur du Mal is: sweet, tough, spiky, and full of the most delicious venom. This 2003 reissue by Candlelight of the original Misanthropy album is handsome and sonically astounding. All original liner notes have been reproduced here on higher quality paper, making for an all around necessary package for those interested in the darker side of Euro rock.

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