Monday, August 28, 2023

Full Length Review: In Loving Memory "The Withering Format" (Funere Records) by Dave Wolff

Band: In Loving Memory
Location: Bilbao
Country: Spain
Genre: Melodic doom death metal
Full length: The Withering
Format: CD, jewel case CD (limited to 500 copies), digital
Label: Funere Records
Release date: January 14, 2022
The surreal cover art of “The Withering” promises an ethereal trip that will intensify certain aspects of doom laden death metal, taking it beyond the physical body's limits. Eight years passed since In Loving Memory released their MCD "Redemption" through House of Ashes Productions (Italy), and during those years Juanma Blanco and Jorge Araiz released one EP with Agoyzen. During their years of inactivity they reinvented themselves and created something spellbinding and panoramic.
In Loving Memory formed in Spain in 2005, releasing a debut demo limited to 100 copies the following year. It was evident even then they were capable of growing, undermining expectations of what doom/death metal should sound like. Not only with regards to their music, but also with their lyrics, which presented images of mortality and darkness beyond death that differed from what's normally associated with underground metal. This went on to become integral to the band’s formula.
“The Withering” is In Loving Memory's first album with musicianship and production value that does justice to the songwriting and ideas they sought to convey lyrically. Not to say there wasn't potential before, but the band enhanced their song structure and lyrical concepts beyond mere refurbishing. The rawness of their music was accompanied by inventive riffs and lead guitars, and hints of atmosphere that suggested something within was trying to escape its confines and move to a new plateau.
In terms of basic style, In Loving Memory can possibly be compared with Hypocrisy, Amorphis, Amon Amarth, My Dying Bride, and Enchantment. This isn't a direct comparison; I remembered those bands when listening to “Tragedy and Moon” (independent, 2008) and “Negation of Life” (Badmoodman Music, 2011). The production was not as remarkable, but the music was slowly coming together over thought out arrangements, rough-hewn musicianship, mellifluence and despondent moods. This made for conceivable innovation presented with alluring qualities.
In Loving Memory's approach on those albums and their MCD developed exponentially after they took so many years off before writing and recording “The Withering”. The rawness and despondency of those moments are redirected through a scenic perspective too beautiful to describe. There is so much going on with this album that anyone listening will become immersed in it regardless of the subgenre or subgenres of metal they most often listen to, not to mention other genres like goth and darkwave.
The band has gone all out to take their progression to a new expressive zenith. Nothing becomes monotonous or tedious during the course of this album. Their controlled energy and heightened thoughtfulness of their writing are necessary to draw attention to each section of every song. Having contained their heaviness has made it more prominent, and the atmosphere added to the production serves to amplify the heaviness and musicality here instead of bogging it down or oversaturating it.
Each instrument operating on equal footing is part of a coinage bigger than the sum of its parts. There is no conflict between the bass and guitar tracks. Each note is tight, without one instrument competing for attention. As precise as the string instruments are, the drums support their presence, which is especially important when the guitar and bass lines complement each other. At times the keyboards support this arrangement, and at times they take center stage, adding depth and color to the songs as needed.
Rather than serving as simplistic death growls, the guttural vocals are as important a component as the instruments. The throaty, jarring vocals are essential to communicate the band’s elucidations of life and death. In the lyrics, the abyss of the afterlife is compared to the indefinite reaches of the universe, where there’s endless blackness but eventually other stellar bodies to discover. Emptiness is present here, but there is also enough introspection to consider what else might be occupying this space. -Dave Wolff

Juanma Blanco: Vocals, lead guitars
Jorge A.: Rhythm guitars
Txerra G.: Bass
Alberto D.: keyboards

Track list:
1. Stellar Runaway
2. Lead Clouds
3. The Dance of Moons
4. Dawn of Misery
5. Fractured
6. Translucid Remains
7. Sun of Ebony
8. Nothing But Pain
9. Reversal
10. Martyrdom of Light

In Loving Memory official site

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