In the Woods... - _Strange in Stereo_
(Misanthropy, 1999)
by: Pedro Azevedo (7 out of 10)
_Omnio_ [CoC #25] is an outstanding album, but one that requires plenty of listens in order to fully appreciate its quality. As I listened to its successor _Strange in Stereo_, I kept that in mind; however, it turns out that _SiS_ overall just isn't as brilliant as _Omnio_. The songs are generally shorter than before, but apparently quite loosely structured; strange arrangements abound, although fortunately the results are usually good and often contribute to a reasonably pleasant atmosphere (i.e., not a happy one), and some fine atmospheres are occasionally achieved. Although the musical ingredients are somewhat similar to _Omnio_'s, they are mixed in a very different way: there is basically much less metal and more experimentation now, which is hardly a surprise nowadays. Contrarily to what has been happening with several other bands recently, this choice had (and still has, for future albums) a lot of potential with In the Woods..., considering _SiS_'s best moments, but unfortunately the female vocals and classical strings aren't used as frequently as I would have liked. Most of my reasons for saying this can be heard in "Basement Corridors" and especially "Cell", not to mention _Omnio_. The same can be said about the metal elements (is this really the same band who made _HEart of the Ages_?), which also sound rather weak as well. Nevertheless, quality is kept high during the first six tracks, but after the sixth track (of twelve), the album tends to quickly lose the listener's interest, which is the main problem with _SiS_. Although the first half of the album has some excellent sequences, _SiS_ is hardly ever as great as _Omnio_, and it's also a much more irregular album quality-wise. Overall, I expected a lot better from the band, but _SiS_ is still a good album. In fact, a whole album as good as _SiS_'s best moments would have been excellent, and, in my opinion, that's what the band should aim to achieve in the future -- which, considering _Omnio_'s overall quality, is by no means impossible for them.

(article published 13/2/1999)


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