After a huge shakeup in membership shortly after 1999’s Strange In Stereo, IN THE WOODS… became, for all intents and purposes, sole original member Anders Kobro’s project. Resurfacing with a revamped lineup for 2016’s Pure and Cease The Day of two years after, we now behold Diversum, featuring (surprise, surprise!) a new bassist and vocalist.

Lineup shifts aside, IN THE WOODS… has always marched to the beat of its own drum, and its early work – if we’re being honest – to varying degrees was influential in such revered bands as ENSLAVED and OPETH’s transformation into their current sound(s). Subtle and gossamer at its beginning, ‘The Coward’s Way’ soon enough pulls back the curtain on a blend of Peaceville Three and THE MISSION U.K. gothic-styled rock in glorious fashion, captivating already, and moving within each idiom naturally.

Vocally, I kept hearing something familiar in the delivery of Bernt Fjellestad during the harsher moments of, well, ‘Moments’, so before my second spin of Diversum I did a bit of digging to find he was behind the mic on SUSPERIA’s The Lyricist, taking the reins (for that album at least) from founding vocalist Athera. Here, though, he’s left to run unfettered, to explore paths he wouldn’t have within that band’s tuneful thrash framework, coloring ‘We Sinful Converge’ with Bowie-isms and BATHORY howls. I’m even hearing some ROXY MUSIC in the elegance of this song in particular – a genteelness without seeming ostentatious or gaudy.

Leading with a pertinent segment from Ronald Reagan’s 1964 “A Time For Choosing” speech, ‘A Wonderful Crisis’ conjures latter-day SENTENCED, polished in execution, catchy and instantly memorable, yet giving no quarter to mainstream expectations. It’s here, as well as through the album’s entirety, that we sense a gelling, a honing to the edge the members have been sharpening since their reappearance.

‘Your Dark’ sees the final act in Diversum shining, glimmering obsidian, multi-layered vocals and an almost spiritual release of emotion – cathartic and cleansing. Simply put, there are few bands of the past two decades that have been able to balance accessibility and exploration so deftly as IN THE WOODS… Walk within this forest.
Review By: Lord Randall

Soulseller Records
5 / 6