Combine the slow trudge of doom, spill some death-vocals on it and splice it with an intricate array of finger picking. October Tide is the result, brought to us back from the dead by ex-Katatonia guitarist Fred Norrman.
Their last album was in 1999, after Norrman founded the band with his Katatonia band-mate Jonas Renkse. Despite the extended break of over ten years, Norrman has injected October Tide with a new lease of life somewhat.
A Thin Shell is less accessible than any Katatonia album, but that doesn’t mean it’s not melodic. Whilst death growls take centre stage, performed by Tobias Netzell of In Mourning, there remains a contrast of dread and beauty, with Norrman’s guitar providing the latter.
In the middle of Deplorable Request everything unexpectedly comes to a grinding halt, and so begins a hazy atmosphere of over-dubbed guitars. Tweaks like this give the record that extra edge, but one can’t help but look back to the old October Tide. 1997’s Rain Without End still has the upper hand when it comes to giving that dark ambient feel.
You won’t get a particularly fast track on this album, but that’s not a disadvantage.
Whilst The Night Time Project perhaps goes on longer than it should, the majority of the record flows, with The Dividing Line revealing Norrman’s delicate ear for melodic exploitation.
We’re not going to compare it too much to the cult efforts of over a decade ago. If A Thin Shell were a debut, it would be a respectable attempt.