posted on 3/2009 By:
These Swedes are quickly becoming one of the more prolific acts in the epic doom metal genre. 2008 not only saw the release of Bliss of Solitude, but Bryntse and Olsson's epic doom take on Viking-themed metal, Ereb Altor, as well. In all honesty, I just recently got around to fully digesting those two releases, so my initial reaction when this record first hit the MR doorstep was something along the lines of, "Already? Are you shittin' me?" But I suppose the boys simply shoulder more than their fair share of grief, because Silent Ruins features nearly an hour's worth of brand new sorrow-stricken ditties, and as good as I think Bliss of Solitude is, I actually feel this release is fundamentally stronger.
Ultimately, there's not much that's changed with the Isole formula since last year. The band still travels a path shared by epic doom acts such as Solitude Aeturnus, Candlemass, and Malta's kingly Forsaken, and they still dash in a small shake of "gloom" metal ala Daylight Dies/early 90's era Paradise Lost as well. But this year's affair really ups the "catchiness" ante in the chorus' and riffing, and a wider net is also cast due to the added variation in more of the songs this time around.
Silent Ruins is meticulously crafted, and the transitions between songs and time signature changes have a fluidity that's honestly unmatched by many of the band's peers. Everything weaves together seamlessly, and while I'd certainly say the heart of the beast pumps steadily at a slow-to-mid pace, there's actually quite a bit going on throughout each cut, particularly within the 11-minute opener and closer. Light, doleful acoustics pepper "Soulscarred" and the catchy "Hollow Shrine," and Isole's choice to let their guitar solos simply rip instead of being weepy also helps to further separate them from the increasing crowd of bands in this particular sub-genre. Highlights abound, but the fantastic "Nightfall" stands as one of the better epic doom tunes I've heard in the last few years. Its initial (relatively) brisk pace and exalted, higher range vocal style give the tune a swelling, majestic feel that's nicely offset by its somber chorus and the funereal manner in which it ends. And speaking of all things funereal, I was also quite pleased to hear the band explore a straight-up walloping, guttural funeral doom measure towards the conclusion of "Dark Clouds" -- a surprising yet fitting way for Isole to end this hefty album.
The record also boasts a warm, robust production that's extremely conducive to high quality headphone use or blasting through a nice set of speakers. It certainly does a wonderful job of illuminating the band's signature "monks chanting in a cathedral" layered vocal style, which, once again, is quite stellar and undoubtedly key in setting the overall somber tone to the record. The clean mix also helps to justly spotlight the fine drum work of Jonas Lindstrom, an element that's often overlooked when it comes to metal that's not focused on speeding 100mph from start to finish.
Buddha's first Noble Truth: "All life is sorrowful." -- that's something these guys have apparently become quite comfortable with. But instead of pursuing the remaining three truths intended to help dismiss grief, Isole choose to assuage misery by providing listeners with a healthy dose of majesty to help clear the clouds. The result's, whether you consider them to be here too soon or not, are simply stunning. Count Silent Ruins as yet another triumph in this band's quickly growing catalog.
Seek and gloomily enjoy.
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