Not-so-strange in stereo
dB rating: 8/10
Release Date: September 16, 2016
Label: Debemur Morti
When Norwegians In the Woods… officially disbanded in 2000, the world of progressive music wept a little. Since then, members of In the Woods… have passed (R.I.P. Oddvar Moi) and gone into metal exile (Jan Kenneth Transeth). But sometime along the group’s 17-year hiatus, the band—chiefly the Botteri brothers and drummer Anders Kobro—decided the mysteries of Norwegian wood had been long too silent. With Transeth in, well, Transit, Kobro landed English vocalist James Fogarty (Ewigkeit, the Meads of Asphodel, Jaldaboath) to fill the frontman slot. Together, with Fogarty, the Kristiansand-based quartet set off re-kindling, re-discovering and plotting new In the Woods… trajectories.
The result is Pure, easily the group’s most accessible album since HEart of the Ages decimated black metal’s then-strict sonic and aesthetic doctrines over two decades ago. At once, Pure returns In the Woods… to metaldom. “Cult of Shining Stars,” the album’s first single, recalls the epic “Yearning the Seeds of a New Dimension” with Fogarty’s distant yet triumphantly sad vocals finely replacing Jan Kenneth Transeth’s forlorn caws. It’s genuine In the Woods… material—though decidedly more direct—but the best part is the mid-point jam, which feels somewhere between the Gathering’s debut Always… effort and Mental Home’s obscure, but godly Vale full-length. But, as with previous In the Woods… albums, Pure isn’t totally linear. Or metal. Tracks like “Blue Oceans Rise (Like a War),” “The Recalcitrant Protagonist,” “Transmission KRS” and star-gazing closer “Mystery of the Constellations” pull in the strangeness of Strange in Stereo and exhale out the sweeping vastness of Omnio without feeling like In the Woods… in 2016 aren’t what they were in late ’90s. Make no mistake, Pure isn’t the follow-up to Strange in Stereo. It’s something else altogether.
— Chris Dick
This review taken from the October 2016 issue.