In The Woods


HEart Of The Ages

In The Woods - HEart Of The Ages ©1995 Misanthropy
1. Yearning The Seeds Of A New Dimension
2. Heart Of The Ages
3. ...In The Woods
4. Mourning The Death Of Aase
5. Wotan's Return
6. Pigeon
7. The Divinity Of Wisdom

Easily one of the more far-reaching bands to ever be associated with black metal, the eclectic In the Woods is truly one of the more innovative and unique metal bands in existence. Often evoking a love it or hate it reaction with little in-between ground, In the Woods certainly have carved their own individual path. Their debut full length, HEart of the Ages, is no exception. Featuring a blend of mid-paced, slightly epic feeling metal and a mix of cleanly sung dramatic vocals and some very harsh black metal screaming, HEart of the Ages is a lengthy piece of work that takes quite a bit of time to grasp. In my mind, there is little here not to like for fans of extreme as well as intelligent music. The band's ability to compose in slower, moody sections as well as the more blistering parts without endangering the song is remarkable. Secondly, the fact that the clean vocals are actually quite strong and powerful show talent beyond the masses of black metal bands who warble off key in mock gregorian chants. Finally, the album overall induces a somewhat contemplative mood, as it should, considering the depth of the music. In the Woods is certainly seeing the forest for the trees in HEart of the Ages.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/1999

Back to top 

A Return To The Isle Of Men

In The Woods - A Return To The Isle Of Men ©1996 Hammerheart
1. The Wings Of My Dreamland
2. Tell De Døde
3. In The Woods...
4. Creations Of An Ancient Shape
5. Wotan's Return
6. HEart Of The Ages
7. ...And All This... (child Of Universal Tongue)

In the beginning, In the Woods released a demo tape in 1993 called Isle of Men, which set the stage for this band's amazing career of extremely progressive and challenging music, using black metal as a launchpad into something completely uncategorizable. Fans of the band's debut, HEart of the Ages, most likely went on mad capers and searches to find this demo, but thankfully the folks at Hammerheart Records kindly reissued the demo on CD with two bonus tracks to sweeten the pot. Retitled A Return to the Isle of Men, this disc is a great look at the formative years of In the Woods, which showed they were already quite advanced in 1993, possible moreso than any of their Norwegian contemporaries.

The CD version of this demo is fairly cleaned up as to make it sound almost as good as the band's debut album. The style of the five songs from the demo is very familiar to anyone who has heard HEart of the Ages. The influence of black metal was still fairly strong in their music and the vocals, which must be heard to be truly appreciated, were about as extreme and insane as anything you can imagine. The compositions are rather advanced with lengthy running times and involved arrangements. For the most part the band took on the speedy, trebly guitar style that other Norwegian bands employed at the time; however, the riffs were much more epic and adventurous, as well as more memorable, than some of the other music released at the time. As far as demos go, the five tracks of Isle of Man may very well be some of the most impressive I can recall hearing. The Hammerheart reissue also includes a couple bonus tracks, one of which was recorded a year after the demo and one that was recorded specifically for the reissue.

A Return to the Isle of Men is a perfect complement to the three studio In the Woods albums as well as their Three by Seven on a Pilgrimage compilation of their seven inch singles. For those with a strong interest in the band's music, this CD will help listeners understand the origin of this mysterious, magical band that much more.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2001

Back to top 

Omnio

In The Woods - Omnio ©1997 Misanthropy
1. 299 796 Km/s
2. I Am Your Flesh
3. Kairos!
4. Weeping Willow
5. Omnio?

When first listening to In the Woods' Omnio, don't expect instant gratification or to even really grasp what the heck these people are creating. All at once heavy, orchestrated, operatic, epic and etherial, Omnio is a long winding road down a musical landscape that hasn't been touched fully by anyone else that I can recall. Possibly the closest relative to the music is what Arcturus did on La Masquerade Infernale without that band's tendencies to simply run amuck in chaos. Or maybe I'm just thinking that because I've been listening to a lot of that disc as well. Omnio is an album one must experience as a whole. The five long tracks are truly cohesive as a singular entity and require your full play. The music builds, crashes, fades and builds all over again as with any well composed piece of music. In the Woods utilizes a lot of various techniques that make other bands look clumsy: excellent soprano vocals, violins and carefully crafted synth sections. Moreover, the band still retains a good sense of heaviness executed in a very strong fashion, neither overwhelming or acting as a distraction. Yup. This is one powerful album intended for "Mature Audiences Only" but fully worth the mental investment into the fray.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/1999

Back to top 

Strange In Stereo

In The Woods - Strange In Stereo ©1999 Misanthropy
1. Closing In
2. Cell
3. Vanish In The Abscence Of Virtue
4. Basement Corridors
5. Ion
6. Generally More Worried Than Married
7. Path Of The Righteous
8. Dead Man's Creek
9. Titan Transcendence
10. Shelter
11. By The Banks Of Pandemonium

Every so often a band comes along that is essentially impossible to completely peg. In the Woods, which is often mistakenly lumped in with black metal, is one such example of a band obsessed with musical tangents and possibilities. As with their previous full length Omnio, the band pursues the course of eclipsing any artifically imposed limitations on what metal-based music should or should not be. There is very little in common with other bands aside from mere components: heavy guitars, doom thematics and inclusion of various "non-metal" elements. High praise goes to the two vocalists, both male and female for demonstrating precisely what clean, emotive singing should be in terms of dark metal. Accolades also are in store for exceptionally evocative passages, such as the creepy music in "Basement Corridors". I have played this album numerous times in vain before even attempting writing anything in regards to it. Like Arcturus' La Masquerade Infernale, it takes some dedication and heartfelt labor to mentally encompass where this work is taking you. There is little base level approach to hold your little hand while listening, but in the end you do get an album that is head and shoulders above nearly anything parading around as dark metal.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/1999

Back to top 

Three By Seven On A Pilgrimage

In The Woods - Three By Seven On A Pilgrimage ©2000 Prophecy Productions
1. Seed Of Sound
2. Karmakosmik
3. Epitaph
4. Empty Room
5. Let There Be More Light
6. Child Of Universal Tongue
7. Soundtrax For Cycoz - 1st Ed.
8. White Rabbit
9. Mourning The Death Of Aase
10. If It's In You

During the course of their far too short existence, In the Woods released a trilogy of seven inch singles which featured a cover song and one original song. These three singles have been impossibly hard for many to find and a bit of a pickle for those who don't own a turntable. Fortunately, after In the Woods signed with Germany's Prophecy Production after Misanthropy folded, someone saw fit to compile all three singles onto a CD with several unreleased tracks as well. The result is Three by Seven on a Pilgrimage, which has actually come to serve as the band's swan song since they have since broken up. (There are rumors that the band's final epic concert from last winter was recorded and will eventually be released, so stay tuned to your local Prophecy Productions newsletter for details on that.)

Although the recording sessions were spaced out over the course of a few years, the CD has an amazingly cohesive quality. The overall atmosphere of the band leans more towards a Pink Floyd-esque mood rather than the older, abrasive and eerie black metal hybrid of their debut. That is also rather fitting since In the Woods covered an early Pink Floyd song as well as a Syd Barrett number on this disc. The other covers include Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" and King Crimson's "Epitaph". Each cover is strikingly reinterpreted and given a true In the Woods treatment. The original numbers by the band are all very ambitious in scope and length. The emphasis seems to mostly be on quieter passages with doses of ambient feedback and warmth. The vocals interplay between the female soprano and the clean male singing. All of this adds up to a rather moving and striking release that surprising follows up the band's final studio effort, Strange in Stereo, quite nicely.

For any fan of the band's three studio albums, Three by Seven on a Pilgrimage is an immediate necessity. The CD focuses more on the band's mellower and moodier tendencies and is very well performed. It's a shame In the Woods felt their time was up and disbanded, but thankfully they have left us with a stunning legacy of original, innovative and wonderful music.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2001

Back to top 

Live At The Caledonien Hall

In The Woods - Live At The Caledonien Hall ©2003 The End Records
CD one:
1. Introducing...
2. Medley On Heartworks
3. Heart Of The Ages
4. Beer
5. White Rabbit
6. Mourning The Death Of Aase
7. 299.796 Km/s
8. I Am Your Flesh
9. Kairos
10. Weeping Willow
11. Omnio (Pre)
CD two:
12. Omnio (bardo + Post)
13. Empty Room
14. Don't Care
15. Dead Man's Creek
16. Karmakosmik
17. Path Of The Righteous
18. Titan Transcendence
19. Epitaph
20. Closing In

Talk about a total wet blanket.

In the Woods began their existence as a left of center artistic band that embraced the violence of black metal. Their career arc found them expand into a wildly progressive and unique entity that stood apart from the rest of the Scandanavian scene. Ask any foppish metal fan who claims to enjoy challenging music and they'll most certainly shed drool over either Omnio or Strange in Stereo. The band, whose lineup was rather expansive at times, ultimately parted ways, but left us with a fun collection of their seven-inch singles (Three By Seven on a Pilgrimage) and a final, lengthy farewell concert in Norway.

Live at Caledonien Hall is a documentation of that event. In the Woods provides over two hours of material, including a performance of the entire album of Omnio. Sounds great, huh? That's what I thought until I actually heard this two CD set of the show.

In the Woods proves beyond the shadow of doubt that they definitely required the studio to reach their potential. At best, the live versions presented here come across of sketchy rehearsal tapes. I've tried on various occasions but have failed to ever listen to both CDs in one sitting. The music and songs, all of which were much more engaging in the studio, just drag on like waiting for your turn at the DMV. All the magic that In the Woods demonstrated on their official studio releases is lost in bad guitar tone and lackluster performance. Unlike some live albums, this one almost ruins my interest in checking out the original versions.

It is unfortunate that In the Woods would drop this dud as their final release to the public. It certainly does little to enhance their reputation. Instead, I will most likely forget this was ever released and stick with their other releases instead.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2004

Back to top