- In Vain
- Progressive Death Metal
In Vain are a solid progressive death metal band from Norway, way back in 2013 they released Aenigma which was an amazing album. It had everything you could want out of prog metal – a modern prog metal classic. Five years later and they have finally released another album and it’s not bad. It’s also not as good as Aenigma which would be fine if it weren’t also very similar. If this were a debut album then it would be a very respectable release, the reason it has a lower score is due to the fact that the same band has a couple of albums that are just better, and they haven’t moved towards any specific direction since then.
It starts a bit weak, the opening riffs felt distant and some of the initial clean parts were questionable. In their last record there was no part where I went “hmmm” but in this there is a few. I know he has a good voice, but the rhythm and range choices sometimes fall a bit flat. With that said I still enjoy their unclean vocals a lot. They do this thing I see done in metalcore a lot where one vocalist will growl, and another will yell over it in the background at the same time. They do a lot of vocal layering in general which makes it feel epic, like how it’s done in Crimson by Edge of Sanity (A prog metal masterwork). They just have a harder time here maintaining the feel throughout the whole song, they tend to dip into uninteresting segments.
Perhaps if the sound mix was a little different or maybe the pedal settings, then I might enjoy the less interesting segments more. The guitars just don’t sound pointed enough and the drums aren’t standing out. It really feels like the focus is on the vocals, which is fair enough when it hits but like I said, if it falls flat it feels too flat. They are improving as far as rough or death vocals go and I think they should lean into that direction more and be on the heavier side of prog. Some of the cleans should stay but the flow and intensity could benefit from less of them overall. Earlier albums had similar cleans but I think the composition around it supported it better whereas with this release it feels like the vocalist wants the spot light. Even if it sometimes means stopping everything to make people hear him sing.
The stand out track here is As the Black Horde Storms. It’s an awesome track that focuses more on the heavy aspects of their sound. If the whole album was like this one song, then it would be an essential purchase. This is one of the only scenarios where I would ever say that a band is being weighed down by being too diverse. The instrumentation is spot on, even during the softer parts where they seem to stagnate to allow time for the clean vocals. I listen to prog for the interesting guitar work and drumming above all else, so it doesn’t meet my priorities musically.
If you’re a prog metal enthusiast, then it’s worth having this album in your collection, at its worst it’s not bad. If you’re here looking to get into a new band then listen to Aenigma first. It’s very similar to this album but it just has more of a punch and a journey to it. Here’s a video of it: