In Vain Wounds

In the past few years, the sheer musicianship of Sweden’s Opeth has raised the metal bar to such ridiculous levels that few bands can touch them. Norway neighbours In Vain take this as a challenge on their four-song Wounds EP and prove to be quite stiff competition. The intro of the seven-minute opener "October’s Monody” sounds exactly like Opeth’s Ghost Reveries but then lapses into a short, Enslaved-esque black metal passage. There’s a surprising amount of progression as each second ticks away: melodic parts like Dark Tranquillity; especially growl-filled parts like Darkthrone; and melancholic, Pink Floyd-ish rock sections like RPWL. "Det Rakner!” juxtaposes some late-career Anathema harmonics with Morbid Angel-meets-Raunchy death riff rotations. "In Remembrance” features screamed hardcore vocals, though the verses themselves are musically sparse with metronomic kick-drum beats; a saxophone erupts halfway through like Yakuza, and then returns near the end for tasteful, Supertramp-like flourishes. The quieter "Epilogue: Alene” plays more like a classical concerto, spotlighting piano, cello, and sax for a silky conclusion to the genre’s newest love affair. Unsigned but surely not for long, In Vain have crafted a vastly creative addition to the extreme metal canon, and their highly anticipated debut full-length will erase their unknown status for good. (Independent)