October Tide – Winged Waltz – Album Review

Winged Waltz Cover Small

Artist: October Tide

Album Title: Winged Waltz

Label: Agonia Records

Date Of Release: 22 April 2016

I simply cannot believe that I don’t have any of the October Tide discography within my collection currently. It beggars belief on three counts: Firstly, I’m a bit of a sucker for that whole melodic dark/doom/death sound. Secondly October Tide feature ex-members of Katatonia and for that reason alone, you’d have thought I’d have been curious to check them out. And thirdly, based on the evidence of ‘Winged Waltz’, the band’s fifth album, they produce a rather satisfying metallic cacophony.

October tide were born in 1995, the brainchild of then Katatonia duo Jonas Renkse and Fred Norrman. The band released two albums and then, just before the turn of the millennium, October Tide called it quits. It wasn’t then until Fred Norrman left Katatonia the better part of a decade later that October Tide reformed, albeit with an almost entirely new line-up.

Following a little more tinkering with the personnel, October Tide 2016 is comprised of guitarist Fred Norrman, his brother and fellow ex-Katatonia bandmate, Mattias on bass, Amon Amarth drummer Jocke Wallgren, guitarist Emil Alstermark and vocalist Alexander Högbom.

I will be brutally honest at this point and state that if you’re looking for an entirely new and original extreme metal creation, October Tide are not it. Nevertheless, ‘Winged Waltz’ is a very classy and hugely enjoyable album that successfully blends elements of early Katatonia, Swallow The Sun and Opeth amongst others into something undeniably powerful and palatable.

The opening main riff tells you just about all you need to know about what’s to come on this record. I love the tone of the guitars as they offer forth a memorable riff that is both melodic and uncompromising with a nice crunch. It’s not long before a more frenetic and urgent drum beat joins in to further underline the extreme metal credentials. The calmer, more introspective mid-section demonstrates October Tide’s more progressive leanings and love of dark foreboding atmospheres whilst allowing the bass and lead guitars to shine through the otherwise oppressive gloom.

On top of all this are the vocals of Alexander Högbom. In interview, Högbom has gone on record to say that, in his opinion, ‘Winged Waltz’ contains some of the most ‘emotionally charged’ material that the band has ever penned. To hammer home this point, the gruff and savage vocals are delivered not only with the expected caustic venom but also with a demonstrable feeling. It is hard to put into words but as Högbom delivers his vocals, you can sense that he is really giving it everything, putting emotion and passion into every line without resorting to a clean approach. It is this element on top of everything else that leaves you in no doubt that October Tide truly believe in their music. Personally, this kind of honesty and integrity is a wonderful asset.

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Track two, ‘Sleepless Sun’ is without doubt my favourite composition on the album. It is utterly magnificent in the way that it blends extremity with aching beauty. The central melody to this song is poignant and supremely catchy without ever sounding cheesy or fluffy and it is juxtaposed with a certain amount of groove, chunky rumbling riffs and forays down yet more atmospheric dark paths of quiet contemplation. Put simply, I have another song here that is likely to find its way into my end-of-year best; it is stunningly good.

The remainder of ‘Winged Waltz’ is none too shabby either, with a continuation throughout of the high quality material and a pleasing level of consistency. ‘Reckless Abandon’ features more pummelling guitar work alongside a vibe that alternates deftly between being cold as ice and warm and organic.

‘Nursed By The Cold’ really does channel the ghost of Katatonia through some of the lead guitar lines but it is much more than that. Fundamentally, it is a hard-hitting, slightly more direct track that features more melodic riffing as well as a poignant lead guitar solo that gives me chills.

‘Lost In Rapture’ toys with a soulful intro and some of the longest and lowest vocal notes anywhere on the album. Indeed the same can be said of the guitar and bass combo beneath it that together threaten to shake the Earth. I also like the way that ‘Perilous’ opens up into really melodic section to counterpoint the chugging riffs of the verse. The lead guitar line is once again a real head-turner, creating a genuinely emotional feeling. This track is also a belter dynamically; more progressive than some of its predecessors, it never stays in one place for too long, keeping the listener on their toes and taking them on a journey through pitch-black troughs to sky-high hope-filled peaks.

To close the record, ‘Coffins In November’ begins with a sombre doom metal plod where the heavy riffs chug and then almost drop away to nothing, leaving just the bass and Högbom’s vocals stranded. The trick is then replicated later when it is the turn of the drums to be left in the wilderness. But when all the instruments come together again, the pace quickens and the impressive atmospherics are taken up a notch to further reinforce the strength of this composition and indeed, the entire record.

If, like me, you have a weakness for doomy death metal with melodic and subtle progressive leanings, make ‘Winged Waltz’ a priority, because it demands your immediate attention.

The Score Of Much Metal: 8.75

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others right here:

Odd Logic – Penny For Your Thoughts
Iron Mountain – Unum
Knifeworld – Bottled Out Of Eden
Novembre – Ursa
Beholder – Reflections
Neverworld – Dreamsnatcher
Universal Mind Project – The Jaguar Priest
Thunderstone – Apocalypse Again
InnerWish – Innerwish
Mob Rules – Tales From Beyond
Ghost Bath – Moonlover
Spiritual Beggars – Sunrise To Sundown
Oceans Of Slumber – Winter
Rikard Zander – I Can Do Without Love
Redemption – The Art Of Loss
Headspace – All That You Fear Is Gone
Chris Quirarte – Mending Broken Bridges
Sunburst – Fragments Of Creation
Inglorious – Inglorious
Omnium Gatherum – Grey Heavens
Structural Disorder – Distance
Votum – Ktonik
Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
Rikard Sjoblom – The Unbendable Sleep
Textures – Phenotype
Serenity – Codex Atlanticus
Borknagar – Winter Thrice
The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
Brainstorm – Scary Creatures
Arcade Messiah – II
Phantasma – The Deviant Hearts
Rendezvous Point – Solar Storm
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II
Antimatter – The Judas Table
Bauda – Sporelights
Waken Eyes – Exodus
Earthside – A Dream In Static
Caligula’s Horse – Bloom
Teramaze – Her Halo
Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud
Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle
Agent Fresco – Destrier
Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic
Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches
Disarmonia Mundi – Cold Inferno
District 97 – In Vaults
Progoctopus – Transcendence
Big Big Train – Wassail
NightMare World – In The Fullness Of Time
Helloween – My God-Given Right
Triaxis – Zero Hour
Isurus – Logocharya
Arcturus – Arcturian
Kamelot – Haven
Native Construct – Quiet World
Sigh – Graveward
Pantommind – Searching For Eternity
Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar
Klone – Here Comes The Sun
The Gentle Storm – The Diary
Melechesh – Enki
Enslaved – In Times
Keep Of Kalessin – Epistemology
Lonely Robot – Please Come Home
The Neal Morse Band – The Grand Experiment
Zero Stroke – As The Colours Seep
AudioPlastik – In The Head Of A Maniac
Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints
Mors Principium Est – Dawn of The 5th Era
Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah
Triosphere – The Heart Of The Matter
Neonfly – Strangers In Paradise
Knight Area – Hyperdrive
Haken – Restoration
James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld

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