Friday, February 25, 2005

Review: In Grey - Sulphur Tears (2003)

In Grey [ MySpace ]
Sulphur Tears
(2003)
self-released

Sulphur Tears is the first full length album from In Grey, though the Swedes have released several EPs since their formation in 1992. Over the years, their sound has shifted from My Dying Bride-influenced doom to a more atmospheric, Goth oriented style. Sulphur Tears showcases that style well through the band's mature songwriting skills and musical ability.

What appealed to me most upon hearing the album for the first time was how In Grey created a sense of atmosphere and melody primarily through the use of guitars and Dennis Liljedahl's vocals. Keyboards are credited, but they are limited to a mournful piano passage that serves as the first track of the album. No matter, though, for as I said the band still manages to create a remarkable sense of atmosphere that is in many ways similar to Tuonela-era Amorphis. The vocals, often layered for added depth, are a significant part of In Grey's identity. Dennis has a voice that sounds a lot like both Pasi Koskinen (ex-Amorphis) and James Hetfield (Metallica), and he uses it throughout Sulphur Tears to great effect. Guitarists Niklas Alexsson and Daniel Cannerfelt work very well together to create a melodic wall of harmony with their twisting interplay and dual-guitar riffs. The leads are often subdued, and there is in fact only one "real" solo on the album, but they dance along the surface of the mix and lend an ethereal quality to the music.

While each song on Sulphur Tears is good, "As Passion Turns To Hate" stands out as my favorite. The music of In Grey is generally mid-paced with somber interludes, but this track is one of the faster on the album and has a simple yet driving main riff. Here Dennis sings at the lower end of his range, adding weight to the already beefy riffs and conspicuous bass lines. There is a very quiet interlude a little more than midway through the song, featuring Per Lindström's bass and a few complex beats from drummer Dennis Starkenberg, before the pace is livened up once again. The faster tempo of this track is appealing to me, as is the vocal performance from Dennis, but it's the very catchy melody that cements it as my favorite of the album. Other standout tracks are "Mask", with big doomy riffs and layered (and effected) vocals; "At The Edge", which is perhaps the closest to In Grey's early material and very Black Sabbath-inspired with trudging riffs and a mournful pace; and "A Sun That Never Sets", where Dennis expands his vocal style to include a deep Gothic baritone and harsh growls in addition to his usual delivery.

Sulphur Tears is, in my opinion, an atmospheric metal album (with heavy Gothic overtones) that can hold its own among the leaders of the genre. Since the release of this album, however, Dennis Liljedahl has departed the lineup and In Grey have gone on to release two more EPs (one of which will be reviewed here in the coming weeks). Still, it is definitely worth your time to check this band out if you are a fan of this style of music.


Track Listing
1 Intro 1:04
2 Sulphur Tears 4:48
3 Life Has Changed 3:54
4 At The Edge 4:51
5 As Passion Turns To Hate 4:52
6 I Amaze 3:39
7 Above 3:19
8 Mask 4:44
9 Instrumental 1:01
10 A Sun That Never Sets 8:20



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