Review Summary: After eight long years of silence, the Texan Doomsters made their return with their best album since their third studio effort in 1994.Line up:
Robert Lowe - Vocals & Keyboards
John Perez - Rhythm & Lead Guitars
Steve Moseley - Guitar
James Martin - Bass
Steve Nichols - Drums
After releasing Adagio
, SA suddenly disappeared from the public eye. Although official announcements never took place, every member was silenced and no statements regarding their future ever occurred. As time marched on, their unofficial break up was followed by a sense of immobilization. It seemed as though they had abruptly pulled the plug. And while tranquilizing the juggernaut of the band that Solitude Aeturnus is, they took an oath of silence and secrecy, until the time is right to return from their limbo state. In all fairness though, this band needed a break. Their first 3 albums were in all means great pieces of art, but the aftermath of Through The Darkest Hour
found Solitude in a state of flux. The result of the bands next two albums wasn’t satisfactory. SA decided to indulge in some modest experimentation but the qualities of their work fainted, at least in relation to their earlier albums. After recording Adagio
, the Texans decided to take a backseat to pursuing other, more personal goals. In late 2005, the band broke their long period of silence and returned to record once again. However, not every member from the previous line-up was involved. James Martin and Steve Nicholis replaced Steve Moseley and John Covington on Bass and drums respectively. Steve Moseley didn’t abandon the project, but took his seat as the second guitarist alongside John Perez, thus replacing Edgar Rivera.
was a personal bet for the group. They had to come up with something that would be superior to Downfall
. But the art of composing Doom Metal music can be proven as a pain in the ass. It takes more than two or three downtuned, Sabbath-esque riffs in order to deliver a solid album. As an artist, you must constantly keep in mind that Doom is all about provoking emotions of despair to your audience. If you want to achieve that, you need to build a dark, bleak atmosphere in order to infiltrate the listener’s soul. That’s the most crucial factor. The artistic touch every Doom Metal band must be aware of. The line between success and failure is quite reedy. It only needs one song to drift away from the emotional landscape and the whole album goes astray. Hence, when looking to the past, I’m sure the guys from Solitude can be quite proud with what they achieved with this endeavour.
Solitude Aeturnus’s music, bears much in resemblance with Candlemass. However, you need to know that what SA also offers, is an experience somewhat harder to sink in, as their music is not as accessible as Candlemass’s. But the die-hard fans and the more experienced listeners know very well that once you’ve fallen under the Solitude spell, you will stay charmed for a long time, probably forever. The experience you get from Alone
is not that different. Once embraced, the gates of sorrow and despair will open widely and you will get to receive the blessing of Doom. The cold feeling of desolation is instantly growing the moment you stare at the magnificent artwork and listening to the riveting first track at the same time. Seriously, try taking a few glances while listening to the first track. You will get to the point of what we call, "a sense of impending doom".
Allow me some space to make a reference to the first song, Scent of Death
. When you feel desperate enough to toss yourself back into the existence, when you’re aspired to make an impact, you must put your best foot forward and offer something irresistible. Solitude knew the first track will be of vital importance, so they tried their best to bring forth a composition to the highest possible standards. This track is hands down one of the best songs you’ll hear in the Doom Metal genre. An epic, style-defining track, Scent of Death
is one of the finest moments in the bands career. It can easily be described as Solitude’s Demons Gate. Ultra melodic and uber-heavy, this track deploys the middle-eastern influences perfectly, while the main structure is based on the drone effect. Lowe’s performance in this number is actually incredible. The outro section features a melody that can pummel human souls into submission and utter despair. Solitude reached perfection with this song and the fans couldn’t have wished for a better start on this album. For this reviewer, this piece bears also a huge sentimental value since it was one of the first tracks he encountered on his way to discover the Doom Metal genre.
The rest of the album flows in the same high standards and almost never drops. Shifting constantly gears, from a higher to a lower one and vice versa, SA constantly changes the speed of their arrangements, while trying to maintain a broader sense of epic proportions. Whether the tracks are fast or slow, there is a lot of double bass drumming so that the effect of epicness doesn't wear off. Moreover, the band show how efficient they are when it comes to the actual songwriting. They possess the skill to compose music without being very progressive and yet they manage to avoid monotony, while effectively never straying from the cathartic bleakness of their overall sound. The key of this successful chemistry is of course the guitar work which is magnificent, but the keyboards are also worthy of being mentioned. Handled by Lowe, the use of this instrument enriches the compositions and adds more depth.
The verdict for this record could have been more positive but it is not, mainly for two reasons. The first reason are the solos. Overall the soloing work is good, but occasionally, Perez has an annoying tendency of shredding like an average, mindless guitarist from a modern Power Metal band and thus, he ruins an amazing idea. Aside from that, there is some mediocrity towards the middle of the album, where three long -7 minutes plus- songs, become the reason to make your experience a little bit boring. Personally, I believe the band should avoid making these songs so long as they fail to maintain the natural flow and the feel of epicness that is attached to the previous tunes. But thankfully, it’s not a big issue.
Bottomline, this is an impressive piece of work. Suffice to say, it was worthy of all the anticipation. I can assure you, this album will cast your soul into the deepest chasms of Doom and will leave you craving for some more. Unfortunately for the fans of this band, this album was the last they made since Robert Lowe was invited to become the vocalist of Candlemass a year later. Their collaboration was fruitful and the Swedish masters enjoyed a decent run with Lowe until dismissing him the previous year. Now, after another long wait, we can only hope that Robert will return one day to where he belongs and strive with the rest of Solitude to new adventures with the recording of their next chapter.
Scent of Death
Waiting for the Light
Essence of Black