Norway’s In The Woods… are one of a handful of unexpected and wonderful comeback stories, as 2016’s Pure showcased a group who not only hadn’t missed a step in between albums but actually surpassed high expectations.
The resulting record was much more progressive, expressive, and melodic than the band’s past black metal mayhem; yet, the album showed there was a new future in store for the Norwegian act. Two years later, Cease the Day has arrived to answer whether Pure was a fluke or a sign of great things to come.
Thankfully, In The Woods… have yet again delivered an immersive, wildly impressive statement that finds a way to expand on what made Pure work. The group’s progressive black metal somehow feels heavier even though the balance has shifted even further from their frost-bitten past.
In fact, Cease the Day is even less melancholic than its predecessor, which shouldn’t be surprising given the album’s title. Yes, minor-key melodies are free-flowing, but there’s hope and longing throughout this emotional listening experience. That’s the key word here, as everything about In The Woods’… latest works so well as a cohesive and mesmerizing whole.
The organic flow of the enchanting prog works wonders in tandem with thrashy black metal sections. In fact, Cease the Day feels much heavier than it actually is in large part because of how well the metallic side of their sonic coin comes through on this record. This is an album that works best in its entirety as individual tracks almost feel lost (in the woods, perhaps?) without the full context.
Ultimately, Cease the Day helps serve notice that In The Woods… are not only back but operating at peak efficiency. Each year finds a few records that come out of nowhere late in the year, and while I am not one to pay too much attention to year-end lists, this is a record that has true lasting power.