Album Review: October Tide – In Splendor Below 8 (Doom Metal)

Written by Mass

  • October Tide
  • In Splendor Below
  • Death doom
  • Sweden
  • 2019
  • 8/10

Bandcamp – Metallum Review

Destroy Each Other with Love

There is probably no need to give the Swedish Doom-Death pillars, October Tide, an introduction. Long since the days they were known as the side-project for Katatonia’s Jonas Renske, they are now fronted by another Katatonia member Fred Norman (accompanied by his brother Mattias “Kryptan”) and regarded highly in the genre, their albums being looked forward to in great anticipation. And now they have put forward their sixth studio album, so befittingly titled In Splendor Below. It is a splendorous effort, hailing from the depths of darkness and doom.

But Doom is not all this album has up its sleeve. Since the introductory moments of I, the Polluter, Death takes the front seat and drives this juggernaut forward. However, if you thought for a moment that by death we mean the brute, callous force of straightforward death metal acts, you are surely in the wrong. What we have here is a melodic approach to both death and, more specifically throughout the album, doom which positions this band head and shoulders above other, generic, doom bands. Melody culminates in “Ögonblick Av Nåd”, sung in their native tongue, where it is ever-present through the interplay of lead and rhythm guitar and the guitar solo, then, ornaments the texture. Melodic Death, on the other hand, climaxes in Stars Starve Me as the riff is heavier and, joined by Alexander Högbom’s death growls, it creates a wholesome Melodeath atmosphere like that of their fellow Swedes, Amon Amarth.

This resemblance in sound and song structure to their companions, Doom or otherwise, can be spotted on more than just one track. “Our Famine” is an instance of a My-Dying-Bride (and maybe Paradise Lost) influence and Guide My Pulse is a reminiscent, in parts, of Katatonia. Envy the Moon, too, flashes at Swallow the Sun, especially their more recent sound. That in nature is nothing to shrug; I, for one, believe that such undertones can in fact enhance the universality and versatility of a band’s sound, hence bridging the gaps between what the album offers and what the listener has in their music inventory. That is the case if, and only if, this thread of referencing and implication remains a thread and not a dominant mood of the work, in which case it ceases to be an association but an imitation, an act worthy of disdain.

An eight-piece album, clocking around 42 minutes, In Splendor Below is a must-have doom-death album of this year. It can entertain you, it is worth several rounds of playing and it has much to offer to fans of Doom and Death alike; and with its melodic ambiance, it can certainly grab the melodeath enthusiasts, like myself, by the collar and treat them a mouthful of their somber taste.

Highlights: Guide My Pulse – We Died in October – Ögonblick av na d – I, the Polluter – Stars Starve Me

The featured album cover was done by Tómarúm av Christine Linde – Carcassbomb

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