Review Summary: A near classic of progressive-minded, thrash-influenced doom metal
One of the most striking things about Solitude Aeternus’ sophomore effort is how not
doomy it often sounds. The band have been frequently compared to Candlemass because of the power metal elements in their sound, particularly frontman Robert Lowe’s keening wail, which evokes classic metal frontmen much the same way Messiah Marcolin’s operatic flair sometimes did, but the comparison stops there. While Marcolin only sometimes took the stairs to the Halford-esque floors of his voice, Lowe—who would, incidentally, later front Candlemass from 2007 to 2012—basically lives in the penthouse of his own. Truth be told, this does wear a little thin after a while. Lowe certainly hits all his notes with conviction and power, but there’s simply not a lot of variation to them.
At the helm of a lesser band Lowe’s lack of variation would have been a serious drawback. However, the band around Lowe kicks up a ruckus that’s almost shockingly technically adept, and they offset any lack of variety in the vocal department by delivering plenty of their own. Every song on Beyond the Crimson Horizon
takes turns pummelling you like a prizefighter, with its ponderously heavy doom sections, and slicing and slashing with ninja-like agility and speed during razor sharp thrashy sections that are replete with flashy shredding guitar solos and some well-placed neck-snapping time signature changes to boot. Then, just when you think the band have run out of surprises, they’ll throw out a delicate clean interlude to soothe the cuts and bruises. Mundane Black Sabbath worship this is not; Solitude Aeturnus have enough technical skill and creativity to evoke classic Metallica or Megadeth with their progressive edges very much intact.
When Solitude Aeturnus really
hit their stride they delivers some smashing and complex arrangements buoyed by the sizzling fretwork of guitarists Edgar Rivera and John Perez and the battering grooves of drummer John Covington, and without even a hint of the self-indulgence that sometimes plagues both doom metal and progressive metal. “It Came Upon One Night” is particularly good at highlighting just how well the band seamlessly weave together their ominous half-time crawls with frenetic double-time freakouts, but it’s certainly not unique in this regard. It’s a little bit of a shame that Lowe isn’t quite able to consistently enhance the sterling music on display, but he also doesn’t get in its way, which is just as well. Even without a stellar vocal performance Beyond the Crimson Horizon
is a near classic of progressive minded, thrash-influenced doom metal.