It was a huge surprise to learn of an In The Woods... reunion two years back. After sixteen years on ice, three of the original band mates reunited to create Pure, a close contender for My Top Albums Of 2016. I was pleased to see them write a follow up so quickly but disappointed to learn the Botteri brothers both quit the band, leaving just the drummer left. How much influence Anders Kobro has over the music may be irrelevant. This in no departure of style and a record I have enjoyed my time with. Cease The Day scales up its progressive scope, builds scenic pagan atmospheres and makes hints to its themes with an Elk stranded among the city lights.
Once again Fogarty's voice serves as the human spirit to soar above with a heathen heritage calling. Its an authentic performance, honest and striving, retaining his imperfections and charming with his strengths. He is central to the musics direction, chiming in with many of its peaks and the general flow. Its more occasional that other instruments become the central focus. Cloud Seeder lays down some narrow groove guitar licks before unleashing a ear worm melody with effects soaked lead guitar that wails in different keys. The songs chord progressions remind me fondly of Baroness.
The eight tracks are mostly lengthy epics that don't outstay their welcome and unfold with steady captivation. I'm astonished as to how often subtle tone shifts are within their expansive pallet, even some that call upon their past. Somehow between Psychedelic overtones and brooding atmospheres can they splice in Black Metal guitar riffs with a chirpy, jolting distortion aesthetic that hails back to their debut record. The same can be said of the synths using similar choral and choir chords which arise in an instant to enrich the scene at hand.
On casual listening one will be sucked in to these vivid soundscapes and journeys. Yet on closer exception you may notice the organic experience is comprised of rather jarring and bold shifts in both tone and style as the eclectic links at work here jostle in variation along with its instruments. Strike Up With Dawn opens on a rotation of power chord rock guitar before flicking a switch and hurtling into a shrill tremolo shredding of darkness as gloomy synths arise. In another flick they drop and we move into an estranged, lone groove guitar lick reinforced by horned instruments.
This is just one example of what occurs frequently throughout, many yearnings of influence and musical approaches mashed into one form that feels very natural and pleasing. For all my enjoyment I never felt any big peaks, crescendos or exceptional moments. Perhaps Transcending Yesterday comes close with its monstrous opening riffs and howling screams but my attention is often diverted to the mix of a live audiences cheers into the song, ending with a chant of the bands name. I'm just not sure what exactly I'm supposed to make of it. Really solid album, hard to pick favorites, its great as one long big song.