Norway has a healthy selection of progressive extreme metal bands and In Vain eschews the usual djent-prog riffing and Agent Fresco-alike vocals of similar groups like Leprous and instead uses Hypocrisy style melodic death metal to fill in their more aggressive gaps. Pretty, clean-sung spirituals are instead rousing keyboard flung melodeath romps a la Amorphis‘ ‘Elegy’. I gave pretty low marks to the band’s 2013 album ‘Ænigma’ for what I felt was good reason: It was incredibly rote and outshined by what bands like Borknagar were doing at the time. On ‘Currents’ the band have found a better mix of melodic death metal and progressive rock that still has issues with forgettable tracts of operatic dual-vocal hysterics and bland guitar work.
If nothing else In Vain have incorporated their melodic death metal influences in great strides and ‘Currents’ is largely listenable for it’s pulls from Soilwork, Hypocrisy, and Omnium Gatherum alike. The best parts of the album are the aggressive and pensive moments highlighted by a deeply standard death growl, oddly enough the clean vocals clash horribly for their feigned emotionless delivery and forgettable lyrical emphasis. It feels odd to see a band improving in one direction and disappointing me in another, though without that awkward juxtaposition of genre they’d be altogether forgettable. This is largely identical to my feelings on modern day Enslaved albums, so if that is your thing then take me with a grain of salt here. Speaking of black metal, suddenly “As The Black Horde Storms” and “Standing on the Ground of Mammoths” sees a now rare glimpse of their previous melodic prog-viking/black metal style, making me wonder where the hell that sound was for the first 35 minutes of ‘Currents’.
If In Vain’s attempts at clean-sung progressive metal were more stylized and unique amidst a sea of this weird vocal sameness coming from Norway, they’d be one of the more interesting prog-death variants of the last few years. At their current state I hear one generic version of one sound clashing with a halfway decent attempt at another. The result is an inconsistent forgettable listen from a band that continues to struggle with expressing their combined identity across a full 45 minute album. Of course the digipak corrects the flow issues of the album considerably and adds in a more meaningful arrangement with bonus tracks that are essential. So if you must grab this one, get the digipak with bonus tracks and skip the digital version.
|Released||January 26, 2018|
|BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!||Follow In Vain on Facebook|
Disharmony with the earth. 2.75/5.0
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