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It's been my desire to recommend an album by Sweden's In Mourning for some time—I've been a fan since 2008's Shrouded Divine—but something held me back.

Longtime readers of this site may remember Richard Street-Jammer's review of November's Doom's 2011 album Aphotic. If not, I recommend that you give it a read. It's still as relevant now as it was then. In it, Street-Jammer discussed the cottage industry of 'ersatz Opeth bands,' which mine that band's chiaroscuro approach to death metal—he even name-drops In Mourning.

In discussing 'erstaz' Street-Jammer points out:

The meaning of the word is slightly different in English than it is in German – something which is ersatz is often inferior to the item it replaces for English speakers, whereas this is not the case for German speakers.

I have found myself feeling too American in regards to these bands. I don't want to stream a song that 1) sounds like another band, especially an older one, unless 2) feel it's better than what came before.

In the case of their upcoming, and to these ears unquestionably best album Afterglow, In Mourning have satisfied both of my criteria. Sharp and sleek, In Mourning's shed much of the organic vintage sound of their peers in favor of a precise approach that benefits their compositions. In the case of songs like "The Call to Orion," those compositions are less cluttered, though no less gorgeous. For example there's only one clean vocal bridge, but it packs a wallop.

As death metal becomes increasingly a-melodic, either through blackened distortion or through re-exploring vintage sounds, I find myself more drawn to this sort of music when it's done right. That's the power of the market: scarcity adds value, and songwriting like the kind In Mourning have is a rare earth mineral these days.

Sixteen years into their career, and after eight years of tinkering, In Mourning don't sound like one fish in a larger school any longer. To my ears they've found an identity on Afterglow, one which I hope they will continue to explore and expand upon for a good while longer.

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Afterglow is out on 5/20 via Agonia records. Pre-order it here physically and here digitally. Follow In Mourning on Facebook.

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