Monthly Overview – the Best of May 2018

So, every month I say something along the lines of “this month has been a strong month for metal, blah, blah, blah…”, but May really has been a ridiculously strong month for metal! I really have struggled to keep this list down to manageable levels this time, and removed a few potential entries simply to keep the numbers down, (I’m not happy about this). So anyway, in no particular order, I give you my top picks for May 2018… Continue reading

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Eye of Solitude – Slaves to Solitude (Review)

Eye of SolitudeEye of Solitude are a funeral doom band from the UK and this is their fifth album.

I always get very excited when I get to hear some new Eye of Solitude material. If you’re unfamiliar with the band, check out Sui Caedere, Canto III, Dear Insanity, their split with Faal, split with Marche Funèbre, and, of course, this latest 52-minute opus. Continue reading

Convocation – Scars Across (Review)

ConvocationConvocation are from Finland and play atmospheric death/doom metal. This is their debut album.

Featuring members of Desolate Shrine and Dark Buddha Rising, this is dark and gloomy death/doom that boasts four colossal tracks lasting 50 minutes in total. Continue reading

Eye of Solitude/Marche Funèbre – Split (Review)

Eye of Solitude Marche FunebreEye of Solitude are from the UK and Marche Funèbre are from Belgium. They have teamed up to offer this doom-filled split release.

I’m a big fan of Eye of Solitude’s work, although it seems that somehow I seem to have missed out on the band’s last album. Regardless,  Continue reading

Bereft of Light – Hoinar (Review)

Bereft of LightBereft of Light is a one-man Romanian black metal band and this is his debut album.

This is atmospheric black metal in the Cascadian style, brought to us by a member of the outstanding Eye of Solitude, (as well as many, many other bands and projects too). Continue reading

Eye of Solitude/Faal – Split

Eye of Solitude FaalEye of Solitude are from the UK and Faal are from the Netherlands. They have teamed up to produce this dark, malevolent split where each band contributes one track.

Eye of Solitude are a particular favourite of mine, with a slew of quality releases, (Sui Caedere, Canto III, Dear Insanity), to their name. Here they contribute a 12 minute song – Obsequies.

The track starts off with an exotic flavour; Middle Eastern-inspired music that shortly is replaced with heavy guitars in the mournful, Doom/Death style. Eye of Solitude are very good at combining the stark heaviness of Doom with the rich melodic streaks of Doom/Death.

The vocals continue to be the pitch-black growls that we know and love so much. If anything the singer’s voice seems to be getting deeper as time passes, and his performance on Obsequies is quite monolithic. Combined with the slow pace of the accompanying funeral dirge each growl becomes akin to the passing of aeons.

The middle section of the song is comprised of a piano and violin section, amiably breaking up the crushing misery of the main composition with a textured, emotive exploration of grief.

After this, the song crawls to a natural close, all emotion spent, all energy drained.

After Eye of Solitude comes the contribution from Faal. This is a track called Shattered Hope that lasts over 13 minutes. I have not heard Faal before this, but they quickly draw me in with their atmospheric Funeral Doom.

Accompanied by subtle synths, their music is bleak and suicidal, reminding of some of the older, slower material from Forgotten Tomb, only with less Black Metal and more Doom/Death; maybe kind of Forgotten Tomb mixed with Esoteric?

Dark growling vocals appear to swim in and out of the music, adding highlights to it rather than being the main focal point. Although the band have a heavy side, Shattered Hope is more about mood and substance than heaviness for the sake of it. It’s slow, miserable and easy to become absorbed in. Before you know it, the long running time is over with and you’re left with an unsubstantiated feeling of having lost something important.

A quality split of slow, mournful Doom. Press play and lose all track of time.

Eye of Solitude – Dear Insanity (Review)

Eye of SolitudeEye of Solitude are from the UK and this is their latest EP. They play Funeral Doom Metal.

Eye of Solitude are a favourite of mine, and if you haven’t already you should definitely check out their début album Sui Caedere and their devastating follow up Canto III.

Dear Insanity is one single track lasting 51 minutes. As with the latest Inter Arma EP this is essentially a full length album rather than an EP. However, there’s no hard and fast rule for this kind of thing though. Other bands like Luna and Monolithe, for example, make similar releases and call them albums. And of course you have Reverend Bizarre’s famous “EP” Harbinger of Metal which is a whopping 73 minutes in length…

But onto Dear Insanity.

It starts off all ambient with soft and vaguely unsettling drone sounds. This lulls the listener into complacency and when the crushing guitars suddenly come thundering down on you just after 8 minutes it’s almost startling.

After this Eye of Solitude do what they do best; slow, crushing, emotive DOOOOOM! This is relentless and laden with colossal Doom riffs and vocals as deep as night.

At about the 15 minute mark we get a change, with brief respites added in to soften the mood before the misery begins once more; this time with increased atmosphere.

At 22 minutes subdued piano takes centre stage and really brings home the feelings of dejection and forlorn hopelessness. Subtle, soft, crooning vocals can also be heard at this point; like an echo of a ghost in the background. This is a very well-judged change of pace and works perfectly as a mid-album centrepiece that carries real emotional weight.

At 29 minutes the guitars are back like a long lost friend. The mood is one of solemn reflection and sorrowful realisation. The piano can still be heard playing softly alongside the tidal wave of guitars, with the two disparate instruments merging into a cohesive whole.

There’s another change at 33 minutes, with the music noticeably becoming more expansive and expressive. The atmosphere is really starting to build now, slowly and inevitably heading towards crescendo.

Another brief piano interlude happens at 36 minutes, allowing the emotional pressure to build with gentle coercion.

39 minutes in. The Doom riffs start coming on strong now and the guitars take pride of place in the ongoing avalanche of misery. This is the final stretch of the song and things are moving towards their fatal conclusion. The band start to ramp up the intensity, slowly, which brings us to the last few minutes of the song where all of the emotion has been felt, all of the despair has been used up and we’re left with a gentle feeling of hopelessness so soft that we don’t even realise how lost we all are.

I do love it when bands do work like this, and Eye of Solitude have shown that they can do it even better than most.

A colossal landmark of a release by a band who can seemingly do no wrong. Get this now.

Ophis – Abhorrence in Opulence (Review)

OphisThis is the third album from Germany’s Ophis. They play Funeral Doom Metal.

For the most part this colossal album is a slow-moving beast of depression and negativity, encapsulated in morbid Doom Metal.

Ophis do have a Death Metal influence, however, which rears its ugly head now and again, most noticeably on the final track Resurrectum.

The songs are long and the mood bleak. There is no light in the world of Ophis, only varying shades of grey and pain.

For reference points think bands such as Monolithe, Eye of Solitude, (old) Anathema, (old) My Dying Bride, etc.

The band boast a crushing production that allows the slowness to unveil at its own pace. The strong drum sound underpins everything whilst the guitars chug and wail. Plaintive melodies and downbeat auras pervade everything, with these being overlain by the deep growls of the vocalist.

This is a long and involving album that lasts the course and doesn’t get boring. The added Death Metal influences mean it doesn’t become stale or one dimensional and the songs have enough top riffs and melodies to satisfy fans of this style.

Ophis have produced an album that may be rooted in everything miserable and depressing but that I, for one, find really enjoyable and worthy.

Check them out.

Majestic Downfall/The Slow Death – Split (Review)

MDTSDMajestic Downfall are from Mexico and The Slow Death are from Australia. Both play Doom Metal.

This is a much longer split than the norm – 67 minutes in total with each band giving roughly half of that. It also boasts quite a striking album cover. Nice.

Majestic Downfall are first off with a crushingly heavy start to things. They play Doom Metal with a slow Death Metal influence – Death/Doom or Doom/Death, whichever you prefer.

Ready comparisons to newer bands would be the likes of Eye of Solitude and that ilk. For older bands think Paradise Lost/My Dying Bride gone full-on Doom/Death. Majestic Downfall are not a band who are totally mournful and miserable though as a lot of the riffs are more brutal or energetic and they have faster moments too.

The vocals are super-deep and the music is clear and strong. Melodies are a large part of the band’s sound and they make full use of them to produce enjoyable tracks that are largely colossally heavy but also show shading with their use of lighter sections.

With a generally more upbeat take on the genre this is a good listen and makes a decent impression.

After Majestic Downfall’s crisp energetic Doom Metal The Slow Death are like a funeral procession of depressive soundscapes. The Slow Death are a much more mournful proposition and big on proto-Gothic atmosphere.

They can be said to share similar influences and a base sound to Majestic Death but they process it in a different way and the results are therefore different as well. The Slow Death are a lot more downbeat in sound, (although they do still have upbeat moments), and the overall vibe is darker and more negative. Think a band like The Sins of Thy Beloved only with a more subtle Gothic influence.

Melodic guitars draped in misery and rotting dreams are the leading lights in this showcase of loss. The band create dirges that hold interest and have some good riffs in them.

The vocals alternate between clean, ethereal, haunting female singing and deep, dark male growls. It’s a contrast that was done to death years and years ago in the Gothic Metal style but one that’s not so popular these days. I find it makes me a tad nostalgic, even. Regardless, The Slow Death pull it off with style and it sounds almost refreshing to hear the clean female/rough male vocals trading off once again.

A top quality split from two bands who have presented two different takes on a core style. It’s especially worth getting due to the length as each band essentially contribute a mini album’s worth of material to this split.

Be sure to check this out and then track it down.

Necropoli – I (Review)

NecropoliNecropoli are from Italy and play Funeral Doom. This is their début album.

This is heavy Funeral Doom Metal with a strong Death Metal foundation underpinning everything.

There is background orchestration, keyboards and effects; these are not flowery or ostentations but rather eerie and aura-enhancing.

The long songs slowly unfold with the heavy barrage of slowed down brutality mixing with Dark Ambient sounds and faint glimpses Industrial Electronica.

The colossally deep vocals drive everything forwards like a relentless taskmaster.

Akin to recent releases from the likes of Eye of Solitude, Doom:VS and Decembre Noir, this is just as bleakly emotive and atmospheric but with longer songs and a lot more brutality and harshness on display.

This album reminds of the constant onslaught of a band like Esoteric if they had more Funeral Doom influences and keyboards.

Rich, layered and with a definite gloomy texture, this is an evocative release that mixes the best of the crawling slowness of Doom and the heavy crushing nature of Death Metal.

Nearly an hour of demolishing desolation for your consideration.