In Vain – “Ænigma”

In Vain – “Ænigma” (Indie Recordings)

Wow – this is awesome! Norway’s In Vain play what is self described as ‘progressive extreme metal’ – I guess the ‘extreme’ part comes from the band’s roots of black and death metal, obviously stated by the scream / growl vocals, but also from the sheer range of other influences ranging from ambient to prog to Norse folk to dark rock. Considering some 20 guest musicians (including Jan K. Transeth from In the Woods and Kjetil Nordhus from Tristania) were on the debut album in 2007, that will tell you the incredible array of sounds including strings, horns and other instruments on this huge project. This time around they are joined by Lazare and Cornelius from Solefald, but it all seems to center around the genius of Johnar Håland who manages to not only structure songs like ‘Image Of Time’, ‘Hymne Til Havet’ and ‘Floating On The Murmuring Tide’ into rich compositions but focuses their dazzling diversity into incredible listening experiences. I guess in many ways In Vain are comparable to Sweden’s Opeth, although I would say the Norwegians are by far more guitar driven and outrightly heavy but also powerfully melodic in every element they use. With an amazing production courtesy of Jens Bogren (Opeth, Soilwork, Borknagar, etc) the sound is nothing short of epic, rightfully befitting this outstanding album that I have no qualms in recommending to anyone.

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