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October Tide - Winged Waltz (2016) - Review

Band: October Tide
Album title: Winged Waltz
Release date: 22 April 2016
Label: Agonia Records

01. Swarm
02. Sleepless Sun
03. Reckless Abandon
04. A Questioin Ignite
05. Nursed By The Cold
06. Lost In Rapture
07. Perilous
08. Coffins Of November

One of the most praised bands within the doom/death metal genre, the Swedish combo October Tide, returns with a new full-lenght, the first one released through Polish label Agonia Records. If there's still somebody who doesn't know some facts behind this band then let me tell you that October Tide were formed back in 1995 by two Katatonia members, Fredrik Norrman and Jonas Renkse, and in that period released two cult albums, Rain Without End (1997) and Grey Dawn (1999), before going on hiatus for over 11 years. The band reunited in 2009 and since then released two albums, the last one, Tunnel Of No Light, out in 2013 really hit me with its unconditional suffocating darkness. Now, on their third album since the reuniun, the Swedish combo shows a bit different picture, there's much more emphasis on dynamics and emotions, album is somehow more complex, but still there's present all the gloom and typical trademark October Tide sound which embraces with its deviant cold atmosphere.

October Tide's line up of today is comprised of some Swedish metal heroes, beside the two Norrman brothers, the guitar maestro Fredrik and bassist Mattias, who are both best known as ex members of the mighty Katatonia, there's also vocalist Alexander Högbom from Centinex and Spasmodic, and since 2015 with a new full-time drummer Jocke Wallgren, known from Valkyrja, Astrophobos, Ondskapt, Ofermod and recently also as a live drummer for Amon Amarth. The line-up is then completed with the second guitarist Emil Alstermark. Ok, this is certainly a line-up that promises a lot and it's nothing strange that this band already achieved such a cult status amongst the fans, being often mentioned alongside names such as Swallow The Sun, Novembers Doom, Daylight Dies, Katatonia, Amorphis and similar acts.

Winged Waltz is doom/death par exelence and already with the crushing opener, in my opinion the albums highlight, "Swarm", shows what is all about. Intense guitar riffing, dissonant soul ripping melodies, turbulent drums, heavy distorted bass lines and aggressive typical death metal styled vocals with occasional blackened shrieks. The atmosphere is every single moment dense, cold, murky, rich in layers and has kind of a flow even though this is the most complex and yet in a way most progressive album October Tide ever did. Before mentioned "Swarm", "Sleepless Sun", "A Questioin Ignite", "Nursed By The Cold" or the fantastic closing track "Coffins Of November" will bring shivers down the spine to every lover of extreme doom. Winged Waltz is also a bit groovier album than their previous one, it has a bit of more upbeat tempo, even though it never goes into extremes, but it holds the tempo semi to slow paced, yet with some half-blasts here and there. Guitar work is just fantastic, Fredrik and Emil serve with so many different twists and quite unusual compositional elements, from almost sparkling leads, chords full of desperation, to some truly jaw breaking heavy riffs, sometimes everything is really playful, that you never know where the song will lead. The overall ambiance and feeling is above all quite melancholic and dark, especially the tracks like it's "Lost In Rapture" or in before mentioned "Coffins Of November".

While this album must be one of the ultimate things ever released for everyone who fancies extreme doom metal, I had a slight difficulty with digesting the vocals. Don't get me wrong, Alexander's vocals are good, tight, deep and brutal, with many variations and will satisfy most of you who are into death metal, thus it also gives that heaviness to the whole thing, but I think that it's still too much typical death metallish, and I believe that with a slightly different approach they could reach even higher grounds... yes, you guessed it right, Swallow The Sun comes in mind. But on the other hand, this is October Tide we are talking about, and they are one of the best acts performing this style, so, if you are like me than pay a bit more of attention to the instrumental side of this album, because it's absolutely one hell of a well composed and performed record.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 8/10

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