Reviews, Interviews, and Podcasts concerning the best Extreme Metal music

In Vain – Solemn Review

2024 continues to be the year that just gives and gives, at least relating to music. In Vain’s most recent opus, Solemn is the latest (and possibly greatest) incredible gift we’ve been given this year.

In Vain’s sound is extremely hard to define. They are a mix of complex progressive melodies, black metal tones, death metal riffs, growls, screams, a fair amount of big-band horn music, and even more clean singing. I love the majority of all that, but as you all know, I’m not usually the biggest fan of clean singing. That said, I LOVE every moment of the clean vocals on Solemn, which is a big part of why it’s in contention for my album of the year.

I almost always start listening to the week’s new releases on Thursday night when they drop on Spotify, but this past Thursday night, I was recovering from strep throat and just felt exhausted and less enthused about music than I usually am. However, there were two albums I had been looking forward to for weeks, so I decided to power through both of those before calling it a night. Neither was Solemn, but Solemn was the next album on my playlist, and once the second album ended, and the opening few seconds of “Shadows Flap Their Black Wings” started, I knew I had to finish listening to the whole thing. I didn’t know that I would be so captivated by it that I would listen three full playthroughs before finally passing out.

The next day, I fully intended to continue listening to all the week’s new releases, but I just kept coming back to Solemn. That trend has continued ever since, and I’ve now listened to the album upwards of thirty times. I swear it just continues to get better with each listen.

One of the best things about Solemn is the diversity from track to track. Even after so many listens, It’s easy to forget what’s coming on the next song. Each track runs the gamut of death and black metal, with lots of progressive, folk, and melodic elements included. Despite the incredible diversity in the tracks, it’s apparent that a lot of thought went into the composition of the album as a whole as well. There’s recurring instrumental themes that resurface throughout, and every emotion-driven song flows from one to the next, taking you on a journey where the sum is greater than it’s parts, but each part is also exceptional.

I’ve seen other writers compare In Vain to Borknagar, and I can see that, especially with the clean singing styles being comparable, but there’s also a lot of progressive elements akin to what Rivers of Nihil does, and even some melodies that really reminded me of Trivium’s best stuff. Again, their sound is extremely hard to pin down, but in the end, it’s best summed up by simply calling it incredible.

In a year full of stellar releases, Solemn rises to the top. If you’re a fan of any of the extreme metal subgenres, it’s a must-listen.


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