October Tide - _A Thin Shell_
(Candlelight Records, 2010)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (
Before Katatonia were the epitome of modern gloominess, they were an outright doom band in the most original of senses; just listen to 1993's _Dance of December Souls_. But a few years after that album, the band went into a temporary hiatus where vocalist Jonas Renkse and then guitarist Fredrik Norrman formed a band called October Tide. They released a couple of albums in '97 and '99 and stopped it to focus back on Katatonia. Now 11 years later, with Norrman no longer in the Katatonia line-up and Renkse just too busy with everything he's been doing, October Tide has a new line-up and a new album called _A Thin Shell_. It's a doom metal album with no questions about it, but it's the selection of members and what they've put together is what makes this album stand out.For the vocals, Norrman called upon the brilliant Tobias Netzell of In Mourning fame. Jonas Kjellgren (who was featured in the works of Carnal Forge and Scar Symmetry) laid down the bass, and the drums were handled by Robin Bergh from Amaran. Call it a super group if you want, or maybe call it a new skin for October Tide. No matter what you call it, for as long as the album runs, Netzell will have you lodged in your seat with his spectacularly powerful voice. Norrman's guitar lines are mostly thick and multi-dimensional, but when the songs transcend into calmer sections, an extra layer of gloom is added to the sound to hit the perfect spot.From the moment the first chords of "A Custodian of Science" are hit, the grip of doom is commanding and dominant. Netzell utilizes his vocal range quite diligently on "Deplorable Request", especially to re-usher the song into its heavier section, which also includes a subtle guitar solo. And exactly like the normal distribution curve, this album hits its peak in the middle: "Blackness Devours". This is to further insinuate the quality of this particular track, yet it doesn't make light of its peers by any means. "Scorned" finishes off the album as it goes through its six minutes very slowly in a drone like manner.I'd like to believe that when a collection of such high caliber musicians gets together, one can only expect an impressive outcome. The only negative aspect that abounds is the fact that each one of the members is otherwise engaged and is not fully devoted to October Tide. This usually forces the band to be inactive for extended periods between albums. Nevertheless, when they actually do put their heads together, they come up with something to marvel upon like _A Thin Shell_. Top notch Swedish heaviness; as usual.
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