Apostle of Solitude
Split: Apostle of Solitude / The Flight of Sleipnir / Rituals of the Oak
posted on 6/2011 By:
Reviewing splits is always a bit of a tricky business, and all the more so when it’s more than just two acts. The trickiness comes in because splits come preloaded with a stunning variety of possible purposes. There’s the big-name-roped-in-to-raise-the-profile-of-several-lesser-acts split; the killing-time-between-albums-but-slightly-more-ambitious-than-a-stand-alone-EP split; the deadly-serious-aesthetic-match-up-and-musical-dialogue split; the ever-popular 18-way, 57-song, 6-minute pornogrind split; and on and on. The three-way split currently under consideration acts primarily as a label sampler, as all three bands are on Eyes Like Snow. But more than that, this is one of those satisfying rarities: the cozy-showcase-of-several-similarly-minded-but-still-distinct-bands split. Which is to say, if you’re looking for differences between the artists involved, they’re plentiful, but if you’re looking for an immersive, album-like experience, there’s nothing so jarring between these three acts that would break the fifty-minute-long spell.
Each of the three bands gets about equal face time here – 18 for Rituals Of The Oak, 17 for Apostle Of Solitude, and 14 for The Flight Of Sleipnir. So far, no ego, so good. Apostle Of Solitude’s opening cut tosses some nice, chewy Maidenisms into the thick, true doom riffing, barreling through a tight five-ish minutes before tacking on a classic false ending. When they stretch things out on “Trangressions,” they offer up the split’s most downcast tones, with the thick, almost blown-out distortion and morose-in-its-metronomic-pulse drumming of the song’s intro echoing 40 Watt Sun’s glorious gloom. Plus, you’ve gotta love the light-on-flourish-but-heavy-on-emoting solo section.
I never got around to checking out the debut album by Rituals Of The Oak, and while the Australian doom act’s contribution to this split probably puts the least jangle in my bloomers, it still ain’t no slouch. “Hallward” demonstrates how the halfway mark is just about the perfect time to pick up the tempo to make sure the listener’s interest does not wane. From about 9 to 12 minutes the band toys with the listener, playing fast here, dropping back to speed one there, before laying waaaaaay back into a serious groove around 12 minutes. If you’re one of those folks that’s been grumbling about the recent glut of female-fronted occult rock-ish what-have-you, snap your ears right on this woman, this tune, this vaguely Reverend Bizarre-ish doom for all the sweet non-bandwagony solace you’ve been seeking. Plus, you’ve gotta love that swift Sabbath groove coda.
Flight Of Sleipnir’s “Legacy of Iron” is a fairly mellow, trippy jaunt of a song. Even when the “distortion” kicks in, it doesn’t have much bite, but these stately melodies dueling with psychedelic soloing end up sounding a bit like Monster Magnet covering Nordland-era Bathory, which is actually about eight times more awesome than it sounds. Toss in a few lines of black metal rasps on both this song and “Draugr,” and you’ve got all the makings of a disorienting but satisfying brew of wrong metallic angles made right in the final reckoning. Plus, you’ve gotta love two dudes from Colorado stealing the Valhallan playbook right from under the nose of Ye Olde Stately Scandinavians.
This split makes me feel warm and fuzzy – a bit like settling in to a well-worn armchair with a princely pour of bourbon – and clearly marks Eyes Like Snow as a label to watch for all things charmed and doomed alongside your Shadow Kingdoms and I Hates and so forth. For my money, Flight Of Sleipnir ekes out the win with a unique and engrossing blend of psychedelic stoner sonics with epic/folk metal structures, but Apostle Of Solitude and Rituals Of The Oak are obviously no mere hangers-on or also-rans. But hell, that’s really what splits like these should be about – exposing folks to possible new favorites just as much as finding kindred metallic spirits, even as each puts a different shine on the same apple.
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