Album of the Month

The debut full-length from Greek band Automaton is weighty, sludgy, coffin-lid-slamming Doom perfection.
(Read more)

Random band

Sludge/Doom Metal mixing Post-Metal elements. The band boldly claims to be the end result of the explosive mating of Neurosis, King Crimson, Agalloch and...
(read more)

October Tide : Tunnel of No Light

Even though October Tide certainly cannot live up to their legendary status, the new line-up has recorded another strong and enjoyable, if somewhat patchy album.

October Tide are a bit of an oddity: a decade after their fabulous second album Grey Dawn, they suddenly reformed, Fredrik Norrman being the only original member remaining, and released a new album in 2010. A Thin Shell received somewhat mixed responses – albeit not bad at all, it couldn’t really bridge the long hiatus and live up to the band’s legendary status. Much like Saturnus, the Swedish outfit seems to be struggling with consistency and authenticity in the face of constant line-up changes, and one cannot help wondering whether we’re not – in fact – listening to a completely new band that tries hard to sound like the original one and uses the same name. But all of this shouldn’t cloud our judgement as regards the quality of the actual music, for at the end of the day, this is what really counts.

It was hardly surprising when yet another massive line-up change was announced last year. What’s most striking is that there seems to be a tradition for October Tide to change vocalists with every album, and their new effort Tunnel of No Light makes no exception, which is really a shame since Tobias Netzell of the Melodic/Progressive Death Metal band In Mourning (whose first two albums are highly recommended to every fan of the genre, by the way) really did an exceptionally great job on the last album and also on stage. And indeed, it took me some time to get used to Alexander Högbom’s vocal performance on the new release. It is by no means weak, but for the most part it lacks the emotional depth and subtlety that would make all the difference; his growls are rather monotonous and, more importantly, dominant both in the mix and the arrangements, at times leaving little room for the atmosphere of the music to unfold. The guest vocalist on “Emptiness Fulfilled” is hardly distinguishable and doesn’t add any extra variation, either.

Other than that, the band basically adheres to the same old mixture of Death Doom and Melodic Death Metal that was pioneered by Katatonia’s classic Brave Murder Day album and copied by bands such as Daylight Dies or Rapture. Tunnel of No Light is not merely a continuation of its predecessor, however. The compositions are more dynamic and complex; there are quite a number of uptempo parts that have a strong rock drive to them, contrasting with bleak Death Doom riffs heavier than anything we’ve heard on the earlier October Tide releases. The instrumentation remains as basic as ever, avoiding the use of ornamental elements such as synths or clean vocals altogether. Some of the riffs and melodies are extremely memorable while a few other passages (and even entire tracks, especially “Watching the Drowners”) fail to leave a lasting impression even after several attentive listening sessions. Fortunately, most of those less convincing moments are relatively short thanks to the dynamic arrangements, so the album hardly ever drags on. Still, while songs such as “The Day I Dissolved” and especially “Our Constellation” are captivating and convincing throughout and can clearly be labelled must-hears, the album as a whole hardly qualifies as a must-have – it remains somewhat patchy and doesn’t completely add up. The above-mentioned highlights, together with the pleasantly apocalyptic closing track, may be complex and interesting, but on the other hand there are songs like “Emptiness Fulfilled” which, albeit catchy and well executed, fall short of the quality standard one should expect from such a long-standing act, coming across as exceptionally simple and almost superficial.

I have to point out that the above points of criticism may sound much more negative than they’re meant: after all, the positive sides clearly outweigh the negative ones, and whether or not you will love this album depends a lot on what exactly you are looking for. Depending on your own stylistic preferences, you might even like the new direction more than what the first two albums had to offer. Personally, though, I would always prefer the early material by far – the arrangements were far more effective and to the point so every single riff and melodic twist could be eagerly anticipated. There was also a stronger sense of heartfelt melancholy and desperation whereas on their new effort, October Tide opt for a more aggressive approach that brings a sense of bitterness and frustration to the forefront. This new direction was already hinted at on A Thin Shell, an album which – despite the new one being more varied – I still perceive as more relevant due to the lack of redundancy. In any case, there is no objective reason to value one stylistic approach more than the other. So in all, the fact remains that Tunnel of No Light is a strong album that most lovers of dark and heavy music will find enjoyable.

Click HERE to discuss this review on the doom-metal forum.

Reviewer's rating: 8/10


Tracklist :
1. Of Wounds to Come
2. Our Constellation
3. Emptiness Fulfilled
4. Caught in Silence
5. The Day I Dissolved
6. Watching the Drowners
7. In Hopeless Pursuit
8. Adoring Ashes

Duration : Approx. 51 minutes

Visit the October Tide bandpage.

Reviewed on 2013-05-09 by Dominik Sonders
Advertise your band, label or distro on doom-metal.com