October Tide has a long history. Formed during a down period in Katatonia during the 90s, the band was only recently reformed by Fred Norman after his leaving Katatonia in 2009; this time the band would not include Jonas Renske. They count on their roster members of In Mourning, Bloodbath and Scar Symmetry. Having missed their first new release in 2010, I saw a blurb come across regarding this release through Pulverized Records on Soundcloud. The end result, after having heard the first song, was that I picked up the album.
Hailing from such a dark background musically, October Tide is a doom/melodic death metal band who seems to answer the question of “where would Katatonia have gone sonically after Brave Murder Day if Renske’s voice had not been ruined?” This music is not melancholy in the vein of contemporary Katatonia, Steven Wilson, &c; it is navel-gazingly depressive; however, the lyrics, and their exploration of this concept, are far, far more mature than Sweden’s Shining. “Of Wounds Yet to Come,” for example, is a wonderful exploration of why and how people close into themselves lyrically.
Sonically, the band paints in greyscale and you should know precisely what you’re getting with their sound. Take the dark doom atmosphere, using melodic death as points of emphasis, and sprinkle a touch of that contemporary Katatonia sounds with more defined bass lines and synths, and you’ve got their approach to this album. While melodeath is a sound that by and large is expired in its shelf life currently, October Tide’s spin on it does well to use it as their sound. The voice of Alexander Högbom punctuates and carves through it, ranging from venomous, scarring howls to grim bellows. There is no respite in his tone on this album. Further, the band’s more introspective moments transition well into different moods, building up to the heartbreaking end of “Of Wounds Yet To Come” or bringing back in the sound of “The Day I Dissolved.”
October Tide’s release is a wonderful exploration of the depressive aspects of their sound, and it is interesting, for those of us whom wonder how Katatonia would have developed if they would have continued their extreme sounds. As Mikael Akerfeldt said recently in an interview in Australia, extreme metal is getting boring. This is true; the sound by-and-large has played out with the exception of a few hotspots. October Tide uses a tired formula well and makes it their own, hitting you in the mouth with their sound. It’s not something that will draw listeners outside of metal to it, but it is very definitely something that metal fans, especially of the melodeath sound, should hear. In fact, due to my dislike of the droning doom sound, I thought I would not enjoy this piece; however, I did.