Vinyl Follow Up: In The Woods… – Pure

While I don’t worship at the altar of Omnio, I’ve long been an In The Woods… fan, and I was very pleased to see the band finally release a successor to 1999’s excellent Strange In Stereo with last year’s Pure. In The Woods… morphed over time from a black metal band through progressive and on to a mix of avant garde and the rather nebulous “dark metal” tag used for otherwise difficult to categorize music blending elements of gothic and doom metal, without really falling into either camp.

Dark metal is probably the best descriptor for Pure, which is a much more conventional album than its not so immediate predecessor. If you were expecting the chants and female backing vocals from Strange In Stereo then Pure might disappoint you, but In The Woods… doesn’t repeat themselves. Taken on its own, Pure is an excellent example of the breed, and I enjoy it so much that it made my Top 10 list. Highlights for me are the brilliant “Devil’s At The Door,” which swings from sorrowful keyboards and acoustic melodies to furious riffs and roaring vocals, and “The Recalcitrant Protagonist,” which is definitely in the running for “most infectious riff of 2016” award.

You could use a lot of words to describe ‘90s era In The Woods… albums, but “good sounding” were not among them. Dynamics weren’t the problem, there was clearly just no real effort put into recording or production. This means that, despite the fact that it has lost several points of dynamic range compared to its forebears, Pure is easily the band’s best sounding album to date. That’s not to say that it sounds good, it most certainly does not. It’s just less bad. Pure has a very mechanical, metallic, and somewhat cold aspect to its sound that reminds me of the type of sound that often comes out of Peter Tägtgren’s Abyss Studio, though the actual engineering credits go to Patrick “Darkhyrys” G. at WSL Studio.

In addition to the digital and CD releases, Debemur Morti opted to release the album as a standard gatefold double LP, and a special edition limited to 200 which comes in a silk screened hand printed slipcase, and includes a pin, patch, and slipmat. I picked up a copy of the standard wax to see if the vinyl might improve things even a little bit, and sadly, it doesn’t. If anything, the vinyl might actually be a bit worse as it seems bass light compared to the CD to my ears. 16 Euros is hardly an outrageous sum for a double LP, but in this case I wouldn’t bother. Stick to the CD, or just pick it up on Bandcamp.