Reaching "metal puberty" in the early 1990s, I was there for the rise of the The Peaceville Three, and while these bands had their triumphs and missteps over the years, I’ve remained a fan of the death/doom style. When done well, it’s a spectacularly moving experience. When not, it can be a boring chore to sit through. Which category does Sweden’s When Nothing Remains fall into with their newest album, In Memoriam?
The album opens with a potential game-killer for some: the near-eleven-minute Reunited In The Grave. The sounds of running water followed by a spoken-word intro could have a lot of folks hitting the Stop button, but it quickly transitions to a familiar violin-accented heavy melody for three minutes before the vocals proper begin. Jan Sallander has a dark, foreboding delivery that somewhat reminds me of Johan Hegg in its timbre. Clean vocals highlight the refrain, which have more of a modern-day Vincent Cavanagh feel to them. The track itself works pretty well, but seems like a few minutes could have been shaved off so as not to risk overstaying its welcome.
The clean-sung refrains continue on Drowning In Sorrows, and part of me wishes they weren’t there. The song itself has some very powerful moments both in the instrumentation and harsh vocals. Honestly, I prefer the cleans on A Lake Of Frozen Tears and Eternal Summer, which are delivered in a more somber fashion and accent the material better.
Female vocals (courtesy of Inés Vera-Ortíz) comprise the entirety of The Soil In My Hand. She has a gorgeous voice well-suited to a gothic metal style. Although the song itself is a significant departure from the rest of the album, it’s an enjoyable break. I’ll have to check out some of her other work at some point.
When Nothing Remains definitely worship at the feet of post-34.788%… Complete My Dying Bride. While they never fully dip into the raw aggression of songs like The Fever Sea, the songs show a mature intensity and are well-balanced between the emotion and the heaviness. The instruments sound great, and the band shows a good understanding of the death/doom formula.
Honestly, the biggest thing working against this album is the album cover. While I can see the band was aiming for a reunion of long-dead lovers, it looks like something you would get from Fiverr. Unfortunately, I can see a lot of people skipping over this album solely based on the cover art.
Appearances aside, When Nothing Remains impressed me with In Memoriam. If you’ve been underwhelmed by newer death/doom releases, give this one a listen. I think you’ll find something to like.
Special thanks to Transcending Obscurity PR for the complementary review copy.