Introitus - Shadows - (9/10)
Published on July 1, 2019
Swedish progressive rock band Introitus has been around for 20 years now and they recently unveiled their fourth studio effort, “Shadows”. Their sound is quite mild and at first I thought it was a bit basic, even monotonous but giving it a few more spins I found that this album is a real grower. On some level it’s really easy to enjoy as most of their themes and rhythms are quite accessible but the chill vibe might make it seem boring to some. It certainly doesn’t melt your face off in any way but a deeper insight into it will show that there’s actually quite a lot to take in. They alternate between soft, atmospheric elements and more energetic, groovy riffs with moody bass lines, always keeping a lot of focus on melody. There’s very diverse and clever use of keyboard with various different effects from piano to strings or choir backgrounds and retro sci-fi synth sound. But the most impressive thing they have to offer must be the incredibly fast guitar and keyboard solos that somehow fall into place naturally in the softness of the instrumental background.
However, this music is clearly about atmosphere and emotion. I found it very calming and relaxing, a bit like the perfect thing to play on either a boring rainy day or a hot lazy afternoon. It’s perfect to unwind and release tension or stress. Even the energetic parts have a very chill vibe and when they go soft, it’s really immersive. Beyond Fantasy is the perfect example, an ambient song with mellow piano tones, soft backing vocals and folk elements (instruments like flute, accordion and ocarina are essential to their sound). It gets a bit melancholic and somewhat nostalgic. But whether there’s a soft song, a more energetic one or a 10+ minute long piece that covers all their facettes (see Desperation), Anna Jobs Bender’s warm, soulful vocals always get the emotion through just right. The keys also build up more grandiose, rich soundscapes with a distinctive fantasy vibe. To be honest, I’m very surprised that I got into it because chill music isn’t generally my thing but I guess this one is just too well put together.
Some stand-out elements that require mentioning are the guest vocals by Martin Jobs in My Hero that give a nice twist to the mood, pretty much every single solo on the album and the entirety of “Beyond Fantasy” for dragging 7 minutes of atmosphere without getting boring. But the one I feel I need to address separately is the album closer, “Awakening”, which is certainly the most energetic, diverse and creative piece on the album. This one sounds a lot more positive, which makes it work incredibly well as the last song on the album. It’s refreshing and somehow liberating while keeping the same chill vibe but also boosting the groove and pace a bit more. It’s also got the sweetest drum parts and some guitar leads that reminded me of the more melodic, emotional songs from Dream Theater. This album really isn’t my first choice regarding the genre itself but I really enjoyed it nonetheless. And I’m certain that they totally nailed the vibe they were going for!