My first introduction to this talented Norwegian band was their debut, entitled The Latter Rain. Its long and intricate compositions simply blew me away. In some ways it was the perfect autumn soundtrack. In January this year In Vain released their second full length, under the moniker of Mantra. Let’s see what this album is made of.
On their second album In Vain continue what they have done on The Latter Rain, namely long and intricate compositions comprised of elements from doom, death and black metal pinned down with a solid progressive undercurrent. Bands like Opeth, Paradise Lost, Katatonia, Dream Theater, Amorphis and Novembers Doom are major references here.
Another typical In Vain trademark, namely a stunning diversity in different vocal styles, is preserved on Mantra. It even includes traditional chanting by native Americans on Wayakin. The whole album is one progressive cauldron of musical diversity, highlighted by some fine genuine blues parts on On The Banks Of The Mississippi and the aforementioned traditional chanting.
All these diverse styles come with a price, though. Mantra feels like a collection of individually brilliant songs put together, instead of a cohesive album with some common themes or other elements that tie all the songs together.
Mantra can best be described as a very adventurous album, which takes its listeners through a dazzling labyrinth of different styles and emotions, executed in brilliant fashion by these great Norwegians. My recommendations: Captivating Solitude, On The Banks Of The Mississippi, Dark Prophets Black Hearts and Sombre Fall Burdened Winter.
Perhaps not as cohesive as The Latter Rain, this album is just as good in terms of quality, adventurism and diversity. Well done!
written by Raymond Westland