In the Woods…, a Norwegian avant-garde progressive black metal band, was formed in 1992 in Kristiansand. Emerging from the remnants of a death metal band called Green Carnation, their formation coincided with a period of significant musical experimentation in Norway, a country already renowned for its black metal tradition. With some members departing, including Terje Vik Schei (a.k.a. Tchort), the remaining members pivoted, giving birth to In the Woods…, which saw the blending of traditional metal elements with avant-garde and progressive sounds, challenging the boundaries of genre definitions.
The emergence of In the Woods… in the early 1990s coincided with a tumultuous period in Norway’s black metal scene. This era was marked by church burnings, inter-scene rivalries, and even instances of violence. Amidst this backdrop, In the Woods… chose a path of musical exploration rather than controversy. Their decision to evolve and venture into avant-garde territories can be seen as a response to the chaos surrounding the black metal scene.
Norway, with its rich tapestry of folklore, mythology, and natural landscapes, has always been a fertile ground for artistic expression. In the Woods…’s music often evokes the mysticism and majesty of Norwegian nature and mythology. Their atmospheric soundscapes can be seen as sonic representations of Norway’s vast forests, fjords, and northern lights. Furthermore, their lyrical themes resonate with the melancholy and introspection associated with long Norwegian winters and the country’s cultural narratives.
In the Woods… stands as a testament to the boundless possibilities within the metal genre. Their music showcases a willingness to incorporate diverse instruments, unconventional song structures, and varied vocal styles. This blending of elements from folk, classical, and even ambient genres challenges the traditional boundaries of black metal. Their approach underscores the idea that genres are not rigid boxes but fluid categories that can be reshaped and redefined.
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The band’s 1993 demo, ‘The Isle of Men,’ and their 1995 full-length album, ‘Heart of the Ages,’ can be viewed as a reflection of the broader musical zeitgeist of the time. These works, characterized by their atmospheric sounds, not only contributed to the evolution of black metal but also showcased the potential of metal as a genre to transcend its established norms. Their music, with its incorporation of female vocals, ambient soundscapes, and progressive structures, can be seen as a precursor to the later subgenres of blackgaze and post-metal.
In the mid-1990s, amidst a burgeoning metal scene, In the Woods… was distinguishing themselves with their unique blend of atmospheric and progressive elements. Their debut album, ‘Heart of the Ages,’ released in 1995, was a testament to their innovative approach, melding haunting atmospheres with intricate compositions. The album garnered significant attention and acclaim, positioning them as one of the avant-garde metal scene’s promising acts.
Building on the momentum and success of their debut, In the Woods… was driven by a desire to explore even deeper musical territories and further refine their sound. They aimed to transcend the conventions of the genre, infusing more experimental elements and diverse influences into their music. This artistic pursuit, fueled by their passion and commitment to evolution, led to the creation of ‘Omnio’ in 1997. The album showcased a matured sound, blending ethereal melodies with powerful riffs, and further solidified their reputation as pioneers in the avant-garde metal genre.
In the mid-1990s, In the Woods… was carving a niche for themselves and building on the success of their debut album ‘Heart of the Ages,’ the band sought to push their musical boundaries further. This ambition culminated in the release of ‘Omnio’ in 1997.
Until date, ‘Omnio’ stands as a testament to the band’s evolving sound and their commitment to pushing the envelope of metal music. The album is characterized by its extended tracks, which allowed the band to explore intricate musical landscapes, weaving together atmospheric elements with progressive structures. A notable feature of this album was the pronounced use of female vocals, adding a layer of ethereal beauty to the band’s already atmospheric sound.
The tracks on ‘Omnio’ are a blend of melancholic melodies, powerful riffs, and haunting vocals. The album’s lyrical themes delve into introspection, nature, and existential musings, resonating with listeners seeking depth in their music. The intricate compositions and arrangements showcased the band’s technical prowess, while the emotive delivery made it clear that In the Woods… was not just about technicality but also about conveying deep emotions.
Upon its release, ‘Omnio’ was met with critical acclaim. Critics and fans alike lauded the band’s ability to seamlessly blend elements of black metal with progressive and avant-garde influences. The album solidified In the Woods…’s reputation as innovators in the metal genre and set the stage for their subsequent releases.
Following the success of ‘Omnio,’ In the Woods… continued to evolve and experiment with their sound. This led to the creation of ‘Strange in Stereo’ in 1999. The album marked a departure from their previous works, showcasing a more experimental approach while retaining the atmospheric and progressive elements that the band was known for. Shortly after the release ‘Strange in Stereo’ (1999), the band announced an indefinite hiatus. This period of inactivity lasted until 2014 when In the Woods… reemerged with a new lineup.
The turn of the millennium saw In the Woods… further pushing the envelope with the release of ‘Three Times Seven on a Pilgrimage’ in 2000. This album was not just another addition to their discography but a testament to their versatility and willingness to experiment. By choosing to cover tracks from iconic bands like Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, and King Crimson, In the Woods… was making a bold statement about the fluidity of musical genres.
Their renditions of these classic tracks were not mere covers but reinterpretations, seen through the lens of their unique avant-garde metal perspective. They seamlessly blended the essence of these iconic songs with their signature atmospheric and progressive elements, creating a bridge between the world of metal and classic rock. This endeavor showcased their deep respect for the roots of rock music while also highlighting their ability to innovate and redefine. The album was a testament to the band’s belief that music, regardless of genre, is a universal language, and it further solidified In the Woods…’s reputation as trailblazers in the metal scene.
Their farewell performance in Kristiansand in 2003, which culminated in the release of ‘Live at the Caledonien Hall,’ marked the end of an era but also highlighted the cyclical nature of musical evolution. Some members returned to their roots with Green Carnation, while others ventured into new projects and even founded the independent label Karmakosmetix Records.
The untimely and tragic passing of founding guitarist Oddvar A.M. in 2013 sent ripples through the metal community, casting a somber shadow over In the Woods…’s illustrious journey. His demise serves as a poignant reminder of the transitory nature of life, juxtaposed against the timeless and enduring impact of art. Oddvar A.M.’s unique guitar work, characterized by its atmospheric riffs and intricate compositions, was instrumental in defining the band’s signature sound.
Beyond his technical prowess, Oddvar brought an undeniable passion and energy to the band, helping to shape its artistic direction and ethos. His contributions extended beyond the confines of In the Woods…, influencing a generation of guitarists and leaving an indelible mark on the broader metal community. His legacy serves as a testament to the profound impact individual artists can have, not only on their immediate bandmates but on the evolution of entire musical movements. In his absence, the echoes of his artistry continue to resonate, underscoring the timeless nature of genuine artistic expression.
By 2015, the ensemble of In the Woods… was rejuvenated with members Kobro, X. Botteri, C:M Botteri, James Fogarty, and guitarist Kåre André Sletteberg. This lineup went on to release ‘Pure’ in September 2016 under Debemur Morti Productions, with keyboard player Job Phenex Bos accompanying them for shows in 2016 and 2017.
Their comeback album, ‘Pure’ (2016), marked a return to their roots while also exploring new musical territories. The album was praised for its complexity and emotional depth, reaffirming the band’s position in the avant-garde metal scene. In the Woods…’s innovative approach to metal has left an indelible mark on the genre. Their willingness to experiment with different musical styles has inspired a generation of musicians. The band’s influence can be seen in various subgenres of metal, particularly in the realms of progressive and avant-garde metal.
The departure of the Botteri brothers at the end of 2016 brought about another shift in the band’s lineup. Alex Weisbeek and Bernt Sørensen initially joined for bass and guitar sessions. However, due to logistical challenges, Nils Olav Drivdal, a local bass player, was integrated into the band in December 2018. Drivdal’s live debut with In the Woods… took place in March 2019 in Kristiansand.
In 2018, the band released ‘Cease the Day,’ continuing the legacy of ‘Pure’ and further showcasing their progressive rockish metal template. This release, even without the Botteri brothers, was a testament to the band’s resilience and ability to evolve, offering fans a fresh yet familiar sound.
December 2021 marked another transition as James Fogarty exited the band before the completion of a new album. In response, the band swiftly onboarded Bernt Fjellestad as their new singer and songwriter.
The announcement of ‘Diversum’ on September 28th, 2022, piqued the interest of many, with its evocative album art signaling the band’s continued commitment to artistic expression. The album, featuring the vocals of Bernt Fjellestad, drew parallels with Green Carnation’s ‘Leaves of Yesteryear’ from 2020, a connection rooted in the band’s early history when Kobro and the Botteri brothers transitioned from Green Carnation to form In the Woods… Tracks like ‘Moments’ and ‘We Sinful Converge’ highlighted Fjellestad’s vocal versatility, from soaring melodies to spoken word and contrasting harsh tones.
A hallmark of any great metal album is the distinctiveness of each track, and ‘Diversum’ excels in this regard. Each song possesses its unique identity, reminiscent of other notable releases from bands like Soilwork and Amorphis. The album’s thematic depth is evident in tracks like ‘The Malevolent God,’ which echoes the introspective themes of Metallica’s ‘One.’ Another standout, ‘A Wonderful Crisis,’ incorporates a Ronald Reagan speech sample, drawing parallels with ‘Guardians of the High Frontier’ by Ewigkeit, another of Fogarty’s projects.
The album’s progression is evident in tracks like ‘Humanity,’ blending elements of prog metal and rock, and echoing the evolution seen in bands like Enslaved and Rotting Christ. Kobro’s dedication to the band and his ability to assemble a talented ensemble of musicians ensures that In the Woods… remains a significant figure in the metal scene. Their music, characterized by layered soundscapes and memorable hooks, continues to captivate listeners, making each album a journey worth revisiting.
In today’s diverse musical landscape, the blending of genres has birthed captivating styles that resonate globally. Progressive metal and avant-garde, in particular, have garnered a dedicated following, with countries like Colombia embracing these genres with fervor. In the Woods…’s influence in Colombia is undeniable, and their upcoming performances promise to be a celebration of their unique sound, further solidifying their global impact.
In a move that underscores their global appeal and commitment to reaching diverse audiences, In the Woods… has set their sights on South America, specifically Colombia, a country with a burgeoning metal scene and a deep appreciation for avant-garde and progressive sounds. The band’s decision to perform in Colombia is a testament to the nation’s growing prominence in the global metal community and its appetite for innovative musical experiences.
On September 4th, 2023, the vibrant city of Bogotá will play host to In the Woods… at the renowned Ace Of Spades Club, a venue known for its electric atmosphere and commitment to hosting top-tier musical acts. This performance promises to be a confluence of cultures, with the cold Nordic vibes of In the Woods… meeting the warm passion of Colombian metal enthusiasts.
Following their Bogotá performance, the band will head to Medellín, a city with a rich musical heritage and a keen interest in metal and rock genres. On September 5th, 2023, In the Woods… will grace the stage of Teatro Matacandelas, a venue revered for its intimate setting and acoustics. This performance is expected to offer fans a closer and more personal experience with the band, allowing for a deeper connection with their music.
These scheduled performances not only highlight the band’s expanding global footprint but also emphasize the universality of their music, transcending geographical boundaries and resonating with diverse cultural contexts.
Translating the intricate and layered sound of studio recordings to a live setting is no small feat, yet In the Woods… has consistently risen to the challenge. Their live performances are immersive experiences. The band’s ability to recreate their atmospheric soundscapes on stage, combined with their dynamic stage presence, ensures that audiences are participants in a shared musical journey.