Swedish alternative metalcore outfit Imminence have returned with their fourth full-length studio album ‘Heaven In Hiding’, which follows up their 2019 coup de grace ‘Turn The Light On’. After embracing their individuality and exploding onto the scene with a new energy and reconstructed style complete with some newfound theatrics with that album, I was waited with bated breath to hear what was next for the band, who have meteorically risen to being a premier league act in the scene. ‘Heaven in Hiding’ delivers on every expectancy set by it’s first cuts such as the amazingly beautiful title track and the brutal “Temptation”, full of djenty metalcore instrumentation and ambient almost chilled out soundscapes as well as quite possibly one of drummer Peter Hanström’s best performances of his career. Guitarist Harald Barrett showcases some of his heaviest and most technical riffs to date on the album, displayed in all its glory on the aggressive breakdown of “Moth To A Flame” and the outlandish riffage of “Enslaved”.
The band are campaigners for mental health awareness, the band work with Swedish organisation Suicide Zero, by running campaigns and fundraising for them, and will continue to do so on this release.
Eddie Berg cements his place as one of the most talented vocalists (and only violinist to my knowledge) in the scene, with soaring cleans and tortured screams that ooze with unbridled passion and emotion from every pore. This credibility is exhibited from start to finish on the entire release, with the distressing yet moving ballad “Alleviate” being the ethereal outpouring of the desperation and urgency of its lyrics, and is the impeccable portrayal of the record’s main ideology: Soul-searching for hope and relief and answers during times of depression and grief and pain. Berg has always been open about his struggles with depression and mental health in his lyrics, but on ‘Heaven In Hiding’ he feels more susceptible than ever before, with the album proving to be their darkest overall to date and diving deep into the psyche of someone who is consistently bogged down by the hardship of his own reality and lifelong battle with his own mental health. This dark imagery is on display during “Surrender”, questioning if it would take selling his soul to even feel something or the toll of metaphorical and literal war he has waged on himself as doubts settle in, as the record drowns in lyrical depth and the weight of its own subject matter.
The mental and spiritual journey that envelopes this release is summarised and perfectly ingrained in “Chasing Shadows”, a heavy yet melodic track that evokes biblical references to portray the adversity Berg is facing as he hunts frantically for the answers within. Wrestling with the concepts of the Devil and God and longing for direction through “The Valley of Shadow of Death”, the song is Eddie crying out for mercy and salvation from the “Ghost” that haunts his every thought and fear.
‘Heaven in Hiding’ is an profound album, it’s a grower compared to it’s predecessor, it needs time to fully enjoy, comprehend, and process. It feels almost overwhelming at times perhaps due to the flow of it’s tracklist, in addition to the overall content, and notwithstanding the fact that I’m a big fan of the band and it not being too dissimilar from past work, it did take me several listens initially to get into.
The release regardless of all of it’s addictive hooks and pummeling riffs, most of the time follows a fairly straight-forward formulaic approach, even to the point where I may get a sense of deja vu when hearing the closing breakdowns to “Chasing Shadows” or “Heaven In Hiding”. This pattern and structure provides some disappointment in an almost 50 minute-long album, however it makes the songs that don’t follow the formula stand out so much more. “This Too Shall Pass”, also known as “این نیز بگذرد“, is the perfect example of this. A gripping ballad that explodes with experimentalism and creativity, featuring absorbing instrumentation clearly influenced by middle-eastern culture and complex almost cinematic production. It’s a hauntingly beautiful track and certainly one of the most underrated cuts in the band’s discography to date.
As I began to listen more and diving deeper into the release it finally clicked for me that this album is full of nuance and meant to be listened to in its entirety with full concentration. Henrik Udd’s deft production and dexterity for concealed theatrics comes to life in the more pastoral and mellow moments of the record, adorning the sonic experience in a way nobody else could. On the surface, this release can certainly feel same old and repetitive, but that’s not without it’s own elaborateness and intentions. The album is deliberately crafted at times to be more simplistic instrumentally, often times to spotlight and elevate the deep emotional lyrics allowing the vocal performance to steal the limelight.
Once I started really started listening to the lyrics, my perspective on the release shifted seismically. The lyrics broke me down on an emotional level. It reverberated with my soul in a way a lot of releases have in 2021. In the past two years of my life I’ve felt the same exact feelings, had the same exact thoughts, and gone through the same mental processes that Eddie’s lyrics so authentically discuss. The search for Heaven in hiding amidst the tribulations and hardships, desperate for the light at the end of the tunnel. As someone who flirts with depressive thoughts and had my share of upset recently hearing the genuineness and raw sincerity of the lyrics expressed in such a powerful way hit home. The album actually left me bereft and close to tears on a multiple occasions and the emotional connection I discovered even after listening multiple times through is a testament to its strengths and its longevity.
‘Heaven In Hiding’ is a dark and cathartic expression of cinematic poetry tackling the oftentimes unseen or ignored battle within one’s self, searching for light and hope amidst it’s lowest moments and riding on the edge of bitter hopelessness and uneasy optimism. It’s one of my favourite metal releases so far this year and a worthy successor to ‘Turn The Light On.’