I used to see this album in record shops back in the 90's. I was always intrigued by its striking purple and white cover of a calm atmsopheric woodland scene with classic scroll logo (I'm sure it's the same guy who designed Ved Buens Endes logo), but I never plucked up the courage to buy it as it never looked typically black metal, which is what I was into at the time back then, although still very tempted to give it a go.
I heard a track on blackend Vol 2 when that first came out and decided I didn't like them. Musically I liked it, although didn't fully understand it, but I didn't like the vocals. What I didn't realise at the time that this one track was only part of a very complex jigsaw of an album.
Several years later I decided to experiment with metal and gave this album a go and I can tell you this, I have never looked back.
This album is beautiful, tranquil, a peaceful spiritual trip into the forests....but then suddenly you're thrown into mother natures merciless hands.
This album has everything- Avantgarde, progressive, and slighlty black metal sounding, although they're not actually black metal.
Every track is different, whether it's its length or the twists n turns thats been thrown in, or in the case of one of the tracks totally instrumental.
It starts of with a 12+ minute long track that begins with a relaxing psychadelic keyboard piece for about 3 minutes. This track itself is then broken up into two more styles which includes softer cleanly sung rock piece then after that, a harsh black metal style.
This arrangement is similar through out the whole album as it goes from black metal screams and dense layers of guitaring,to ambient music, to ambient sounds and cleanly sung passages.
The drumming is amazing. It's fast but not Marduk
fast, but also very rhythmic with a very nice clear sound and delivers a great kick to the album.
You can actually hear the bass in this too and theres some great guitar versus in this. The guitar sound is pretty dense and cold.
As for the vocals, these are an aquired taste. I personally love them. I can see why people wouldn't though, but to me the different ranges fit the different styles of playing and different moods of the album. He give us some clean singing, black metal shrieks, distorted echoey shrieks that sound like they've been sung through a megaphone, as well as whispers and spoken verses. There is also some moderate use of female vocals too.
The keys are used quite alot in this record but are not dominant throughout the whole tracks. They tend to be used more in the tranquil passages, or as an undertone to a track and that is another thing what I love about this album...
You have to really listen to it. After several listens and especially on ear phones you hear lots on different tones to this album- a layer of keyboards or a bass line you may not of heard the first time round under all the layers dense guitaring and vocal chaos. The female vocals are used thinly but effectivly like on the last track where they are used for one small verse but sung with a ghostly effect.
Listening to this makes you feel as though you are lost in a spiritual dimension somewhere in a forest. It's dense layers reflect the harshness of nature and the calming ambient and sound effects reflects natures beautiful side.
Overall, this album never sounds outdated. When I hear it it still gives me the same joy as the first day I bought it.
Released at a great time when fellow Norwegian label mates Fleurety
and Ved buens ende and Arcturus
released their Avantgarde efforts,In the woods were in there with them sticking two fingers up at Satan
and the bullet belts and pushing the boundaries.