October Tide – In Splendor Below

About October Tide I’ve always had the feeling of being in the presence of a beautiful unfinished, at least taking into account the albums released after the reunion of 2010 and considering the two works of the last century (especially the magnificent Rain Without End) as something in itself. The band of the Norrman brothers got rid rather quickly, in this decade, of the potential emotional burden of the darker death doom, pushing the sound towards a melodic death, however dark, that ends up staying halfway between the two main paths without opting in a decisive way for one of them. The result cannot be defined as unsatisfying because the well-known mastery of these musicians fully guarantees the sound quality expressed, but what remains at the end of the listening of In Splendor Below is that of a rocky album, unexceptionable at a formal level but lacking both of the emotional cues of doom and of the unstoppable rides typical of melodic death. Stars Starve Me, for example, is a powerful and catchy track but, at a certain point, it screws instead of continuing with decision on the road initially taken with what is perhaps the most catchy chorus of the entire work. Better, then, a darker track like We Died In October, whose right of citizenship in the death doom field is never questioned thanks to a more painful guitar work and the remarkable growl of Alexander Högbom, or Our Famine, with its slower rhythms that bring the album in areas closer to the past of October Tide, or the more dissonant and final Envy the Moon. Then it’s undeniable that songs like I, The Polluter and Guide My Pulse exhibit that typical impact of melodic death that is not in the ropes of any band, so in terms of consuntivo In Splendor Below can only be considered a successful work and without particular flaws. The only real criticism that I can make to unassailable musicians like the Norrman brothers is that, listening to this work, a strong distinctive feature does not emerge to make the sound immediately recognizable, despite we are talking about a band that has reached almost a quarter of a century of activity. For the rest, In Splendor Below is a record that deserves to be listened to and that, probably, will fully convince more than one listener but, as far as I’m concerned, the appointment with a new masterpiece, if not at the height at least close to Rain Without End, is again postponed to the next occasion.

2019 – Agonia Records