Review Summary: a welcome return to form by Swedish doomsters Isole.
Isole’s third full length Bliss of Solitude
, released last year, was a perfect example of the mediocrity which can often pervade the traditional doom genre. It’s something that plagues any sort of music, but in particular styles, such as doom, there isn’t much of a critical area in which subjectivity flows rampant; dullness and standard composition can be immediately identified and severely hamper a band’s progress. This was the case for Bliss of Solitude
, but it goes to show Isole’s determination as a band when they are able to rise up from such a low and come back with something well made, more specifically their fourth album, Silent Ruins
With the album, Isole have injected something of an excitable energy into their music; it’s instantly appealing, and without making any objective statements about its longevity, is an album that doesn’t become uninteresting quickly. This is due in part to the variation of the album’s mood; although generally falling under such feelings as somber, melancholic or vividly depressing, Isole do not dwell on the same ideas constantly, making huge amounts of headway in dulling the blade of repetitiveness, something that was not so well handled on Bliss of Solitude
Nevertheless, not even this newfound vigour can completely extricate Isole from past habits; opener ‘From the Dark’ is too long for its own good, and some sections of the album noticeably pale alongside the better tracks. Still, it is a huge step up for Isole and basically returns the band to the former strength they attained with their debut Forevermore
Although it does well to introduce the energetic stylings of the album, ‘From the Dark’ quickly stagnates and it’s fortunate that the band delivers the two punch combo of ‘Forlorn’ and ‘Nightfall’ immediately after. ‘Forlorn’ is characterized by its slight Middle Eastern flavour, and driven by a flooring flurry of drumming. ‘Nightfall’ is probably the best song on the album; it shows off Daniel Bryntse’s high range, and has a fantastically melancholic chorus which is instantly likeable.
The album’s strength lies in its shorter songs that sit between the two longer tracks, and this is something which Isole will hopefully take note of with future releases. Attempts at sounding ‘epic’ by needlessly lengthening the tracks are ultimately to the album’s disadvantage, and Silent Ruins
, particularly the first and last tracks, goes to show how well Isole could do with a little less room for stagnation. ‘Hollow Shrine’ and ‘Soulscarred’ continue on with the solidity of the preceding two tracks; the former has an outstanding intro which weaves in and out of the song to great effect, while the latter is a slow burning, climactic song that ends in a spectacular fashion.
One of the main forces behind Silent Ruins
’ appeal is its inventiveness; asides from its collection of catchy and engaging riffage, Isole make sure to deliver well placed and thoughtful solos, shreddy in nature but not at all wanky. Bryntse’s vocals, although being thoroughly well performed, are hugely complemented by the occasional instances of gutturals which come as a huge surprise and work superbly with the album’s overall sound.
As a traditional doom album, Silent Ruins
is not anything remarkable. Obviously it hardly matches up to earlier greats, and even in regard to some of the bands associated with the doom revival, such as Doomshine
, Isole are somewhat lacking in delivering that complete satisfaction one looks for in such an album. Without a doubt, the mid section of the album is fantastic, but the album’s reliance on simply four songs cannot be overlooked. Silent Ruins
is a fun album; one would be hard pressed to find too many things that are wrong with it without getting nitpicky, but seeing as it is the job of this review to be nitpicky, its faults must be announced. At the very least, it’s a hopeful image to see Isole back on track with their music.