Taking off right where The Weight Of Oceans left off, Afterglow continues the Swedish melodeath/doomers onslaught. It's hard for me not to be biased with this one, as In Mourning have always been one of my favorite acts ever since the release of their debut, The Shrouded Divine. They are one band in particular that have never released what I'd consider to be a bad or even remotely mediocre release, really pouring everything that they have into one album. There are only seven songs here, but when you listen to the record from back to front, you'll find that is all there needs to be. Obviously fans of Opeth, Swallow The Sun, Insomnium, Daylight Dies and other acts will enjoy this one, but I don't consider the music quite so funerary or bleak, what with all the melody. While the record is death/doom, it never sounds like a literal death march, instead tapping into Opeth at their most melodic and beautiful. They've obviously taken a keynote from their Swedish brethren here, especially during the opening riff of “The Grinning Mist” which seems lifted right from Blackwater Park. That being said, the guys still pump some hefty guitar solos into their work, which are surprisingly speedy. You almost don't even expect such a sound to come out of In Mourning, but you certainly won't kick it out of bed either.
This is the kind of performance that we've expected from Opeth for years, making Afterglow sound a bit more like the record that might have come after Deliverance in some sections. As one might expect, these songs are quite mountainous in length, with the cut I just mentioned being the longest on the album, clocking in at ten minutes. Believe me folks, if I can get into a ten minute track so much that I don't even realize I've been listening for that long, then I'm quite sure that this entire record is worth recommending. Yet once again, I'm going to be a bit biased as these guys are definitely one of my favorite things in heavy metal, and I can say that I was pining for a new release for quite a while. They've only gotten better with time as Afterglow shows, with my only wonder as to why these gentlemen haven't gotten as popular or well-known as Opeth. Sure, maybe the cleans coming from Tobias Netzell (ex-Contortion, ex-Majalis, ex-October Tide) aren't as memorable as Mikael Akerfeldt, but these guys make up for it as they always have, with three powerful guitarists. Aside from Netzell, we also have Bjorn Pettersson (ex-Majalis) as well as Tim Nedergard (Forgotten Kingdom) all playing masterful lead melodies that really seem to stand out in the mix. If there's one thing I always remember about an In Mourning album, it's in the melodies – these guys never falter in that. Thick, doomy bass riffs are delivered by Pierre Stam (ex-October Tide) while uncanny melodies are delivered by three of this act's five members that are so earth shattering at times, you might feel that your head is going to explode. Yes, they are really that good, just as I've always come to expect. When you take a look at this lineup and notice that three men are actually playing guitar here, you soon begin to realize why it sounds so musically proficient and why the record took so long to make. Keep in mind, The Weight Of Oceans was released in 2012, back when everyone thought the world was going to end, and here we are three years later with another great disc longer after we realized that we're all still here.
I've no doubt that Opeth fans in particular are going to jump for joy when they put this one into their listening devices, as the band have borrowed so much from their playbook that it might almost seem ludicrous. For a band that began as Gothic metal, they certainly have reached a new turning point in this extremely progressive, yet forlorn sound and style. There's nothing here that will make you cry tears into a bucket, but the passion and emotion lodged deep within this record will surely make you weep tears of joy. Albums like Afterglow and Blackwater Park are the very reason why I was drawn to this type of metal, despite finding it awfully boring in my younger years. As I soon grew and matured, I began to recognize the level of heartfelt composition and the amount of time needed in order to craft such a record like this, which feels like a modern classical release at times. I feel that Afterglow is a sort of morose watercolour painting, albeit with very bright streaks of light and some rather ferocious undertones. Opeth worship aside, these Swedes have once again done what they've always done best – and you don't need me to tell you that. This is definitely a record to follow in the footsteps of The Weight Of Oceans, and seems to excel far greater in areas where the previous disc fell a bit short. It's the kind of record that you can listen to many times over, without getting tired quickly, especially if you're a lover of melody like myself. There are certain songs in particular that I could listen to for days, simply due to certain melody sections alone. That being said, I highly advise you to go out there and make this purchase as you will not regret it, and the band needs your support. Without question, Afterglow is a record that has exceeded my expectations greatly, and was well worth the wait. So we have yet another great album, from another great band.
(7 Tracks, 55:00)