OCTOBER TIDE — In Splendor Below (review)

OCTOBER TIDE — In Splendor Below album cover Album · 2019 · Death-Doom Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Kev Rowland
Formed in 1995 by Katatonia members, Jonas Renkse (Bloodbath) and Fred Norrman, October Tide released two albums before going on hiatus for eleven years. In 2009 Norrman parted ways with Katatonia, and resurrected October Tide, consolidating the band's re-emergence with a new featuring Tobias Netzell of In Mourning on vocals. Now back with their sixth album in total, the band currently comprises Fredrik Norrman, his brother and guitarist Mattias Norrman (also ex-Katatonia), vocalist Alexander Högbom (Demonical), bassist Johan Jönsegård (Letters From The Colony) and drummer Jonas Sköld (Letters From The Colony, Thenighttimeproject). Although Katatonia came out of the Swedish scene they were always a very different proposition to the rest of the bands around them (I still consider myself very fortunate to see them at No Sleep Til Auckland in 2010, one of the very few metal festivals we’ve had here in recent years). The same can be said for October Tide, as although their roots are far more obviously in the melodic death scene, they have also put in plenty of doom and considering one genre is normally very quick while the other is slow, it means they are approaching the music from a quite different area than many. The other, rather refreshing, aspect is that this band keeps getting heavier while many of their contemporaries from the Nineties seem to have forgotten what they started all those years ago.

Look past the death metal style logo, and the rather threatening cover imagery, and even some of the growls, and one quickly realises that what we have here is an incredibly heavy band who are also intensely melodic. True, this isn’t the sort of material one will hear on the radio, and the riffs during “Seconds” would make Iommi proud, but each time I play “Stars Starve Me” I find myself singing the chorus. It’s not intentional, it just happens! I don’t expect it from a band with this style of imagery, and to be honest I certainly don’t expect it from any outfit who are signed to the mighty Agonia Records (one of my favourite, and certainly one of the most consistent metal labels around), yet somehow it just happens. These guys have captured a groove and a style which is lifting them above so many others. Alexander Backlund (singer with Letters From The Colony) undertook production duties, and knowing the guys so well obviously helped as the sound he has captured it huge, while Daniel Lidén did a great job on mixing and mastering.

This isn’t an album I would have expected from either October Tide or Agonia Records, as it is so intensely melodic as well as being incredibly heavy. Certainly worthy of investigation, play it loud.
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