without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
While Candlemass has appeared to go soft in the knees on their recent album, it's fortunate that other Swedish doom metal bands have been picking up their paces. Isole has already produced two triumphs in Throne of Void and Bliss of Solitude, and with their 4th record Silent Ruins, they seek yet another.
As "From the Dark" opens in a powerful array of gleaming, percussive chords that channel the sorrow and majesty of this band, you realize they've found it. But Silent Ruins is more of a successor to Bliss of Solitude than a usurper, living within the standard set by that prior piece. "Forlorn" plows forward with some arabesque melodies over crushing chords, one of the stronger tracks on this album, as the taciturn vocals recount tales of woe and helplessness. The descending melodies over the double bass in "Nightfall" give way to a great, slower paced thrashing doom rhythm. "Hollow Shrine" moves at another gothic crawl, with the vocals carrying the shifting chords and a graceful force to the bridge riff. The glistening acoustics of "Soulscarred" work wonders beneath the somber vocals as the track builds towards its lumbering momentum.
Isole is ever the class act for its production, which ranks up there with all the best gothic doom of a Candlemass and Memory Garden. The band has a mastery of both their softer acoustic side and the crushing metal laden in sad patterns of melody. The vocals are the sort that envision a sad monk crossing an impossible distance in dark speculation of the sins of mankind. The lyrics are passable for the style, but rarely evoke moments of wonder. In all, the album is almost on the level of Bliss of Solitude, perhaps a little less heavy. If you're already a fan of Isole, you should be satisfied. If not, it's as good a place to start as any in the band's backlog.
Unlucky for some it may be, but here we have the release of Swedish doomsters Isole's fourth album "Silent Ruins" just 13 months after "Bliss of Solitude", an album fellow writer PP felt moved to describe as an "essential doom metal release" in its review one year ago. So how have things developed since then? Well, I may not rate "Bliss..." as highly as PP but "Silent Ruins" is a great album in anyone's book, for those at least whose book features many a page of broken-hearted tomes of misery and depression. So me then.
The key let down of last years "Bliss of Solitude" was its lack of a genuine feeling of sorrow entrenched in the slow beats that make up any doom album. "Silent Ruins" ruins makes up for that with all-round heavier songs, Isole's most evocative and thought-provoking song in the My Dying Bride-influenced "Peccatum", and in 12-minute closer "Dark Clouds", the emergence of some growled vocals assisting the song's move into the realms of the very slow, punishing doom, ala Asunder. For the most part however fear not, "Silent Ruins" is faster than your Asunder's of this world (for a start it is actually moving), registering a feel much more akin to cult doom legends Solitude Aeturnus than the usual Candlemass comparisons that land at the doorstep of any 'epic doom' records it seems. The improvement found is largely based on the excellent vocals of Mr. Daniel Bryntse, which combined with many well-structured vocal patterns, provide an intriguing listen lifting some of the songs from run-of-the-mill doom to greater heights with his broad, strong voice clearly influenced by Robert Lowe of aforementioned Solitude Aeturnus (and latterly Candlemass). The shoegazing feel of "Nightfall", the album's best track (and most likely a nod to the classic Candlemass album of the same name) shows the advancement from the previous album; nothing there held a torch to the epic despondency of this song with it's silhouetting lead riffs and grand vocal lines that sound more akin to passages from a grand poetic production than the work of an underground doom band.
In comparison to arguably the most recent name to be inducted in to the hallowed halls of Doom Gods, Finland's Reverend Bizarre, the production to be found on Isole's work is considerably more modern and forthright. Perhaps to the detriment of achieving a unique identity, such a full sound is to be expected nowadays though for the creation of pure, blackened misery a rougher-round-the-edges production would not have gone amiss. Note Skepticism as a fine example. For a modern doom metal album, "Silent Ruins" is very good however; there is true feeling in a number of tracks and for that alone Isole are deserving of a good mark.
Originally written for Rockfreaks.net
Hailing from Sweden, a land rich with doom metal including Candlemass, Draconian and Grand Magus, Isole play doom that sounds nothing like the aforementioned groups. Silent Ruins is the band’s fourth full-length record, following Bliss of Solitude, which was only released last year.
Silent Ruins has ample on offer with tempos that vary from funeral doom to rapid double bass drumming. The opening song clocks in at over ten minutes, full of varied dynamics and grand essences to keep the listener’s interest sustained. Clean singing is the primary source of vocalisation but well-positioned growls appear sparingly. The use of melodic guitars paired against heavy rhythms is effective and the Eastern-influenced meandering leads of ‘Forlorn’ and ‘Soulscarred’ are distinctly memorable. Conversely ‘Peccatum’ is devoid of guitars as a piano ballad, providing a sumptuous change of texture on the release.
There is little detestable on this opus but one trifling issue is the closing song ‘Dark Clouds’. It commences magnificently but spends too much time repeating a mediocre melodic guitar lead over stereotypical doom chords, concluding suddenly after over ten minutes as if the band ran out of ideas. This is a disappointing end for such a high calibre release.
Overall, Silent Ruins is a likely contender for doom metal album of the year. It is dark without being melodramatic. With a variety of techniques borrowed from all over the doom spectrum, this album never fails to occupy curiosity.
Originally written for www.soundshock.net
Silent Ruins is the bands second album in as many years and the follow up to Bliss of Solitude. The band has been steadily raising its profile in the doom metal world and with a little bit of luck Silent Ruins could be the album that takes these Swedes to a whole new level.
The band has always worn its influences on its sleeve and it’s the same case here with their latest album. The template of Candlemass, Anathema and Solitude Aeturnus is still being followed but with a few minor adjustments. The big change is in the band’s two guitarists. No longer do they try to play weepy melancholic solos. Instead, the doom metal on offer is bolstered by some ripping guitar work that works very nicely with the generally morose songwriting. The band on the whole is also just a touch more energetic on this album than they have been in the past and the change works well. The songs go through a variety of moods and tempos ranging from epic Candlemass styled doom to more aggressive up tempo doom that compares favorably to the last Memory Garden.
The biggest problems with Silent Ruins though are the opening and closing songs on the album. Both of them cross the 11 minute mark and while opener From the Dark has a few interesting parts it fails to hold my interest for its entirety. The same goes for album closer Dark Clouds which is a bit better than the opener but again just seems like an unnecessarily long song. However, having said that, sandwiched between these two epics is five of the best songs the band has ever written. Forlorn is a mournful and melancholic doom metal song that’s high on atmosphere, Nightfall comes across like a heavier groovier memory Garden and is the best song on here with some solid vocals and guitar solos. Soulscarred is moody doom metal that alternates between a chugging doom riff and gentle acoustic melodies and Pecattum is a piano led doom ballad that works very nicely with gentle almost chant like vocals.
I have to say that this is a big step up for the band. The majority of songs on this album hover in the good to great area and with just a little bit of editing on the opening and closing songs of the album this would have been some essential doom metal. As it is, it’s well worth hearing especially for fans of bands like Ereb Altor (which shares guitarist/ vocalist Daniel Bryntse with Isole) and for fans of the classic Candlemass/ Solitude Aeturnus sound.
Originally written for http://www.kvltsite.com
Being able to make songs with play lengths over 10 minutes go by as if it was a 1-minute interlude is quite a positive skill and Isole seem to have acquired this skill to a high proficiency. Even though their latest offering “Silent Ruins” is over 50 minutes long, it is over before you know it. This is by no means a negative remark, but merely serves to underscore the quality of Isole's song-writing. In fact, the music is highly enjoyable, heavy and intricate, and topped with a great production.
Although slow and mid-paced songs are most of what this album has to offer, Isole seems to be keeping a rather firm speed in moving through their songs. It is never the case that the songs become too slow or become boring because too little is happening. While none of the music is cheerful or mirthy, the atmosphere on “Silent Ruins” seems to be slightly more uplifting and positive than your regular doom metal band. Perhaps Isole see the light of the end of the tunnel, rather than only the depressing journey through the tunnel itself. It is not all quite as sorrowful and dejected as you might expect. In a sense, Isole's music on this album reminds more of epic doom metal bands, despite there being a rather gloomy undertone throughout, particularly in the vocals department. Vocals vary between low choir-like chanting, regular mid-range clean vocals and higher pitched clean vocals, all of these being well-placed and fitting the music like a glove. Paired with the largely audible bass and good drumming employed, “Silent Ruins” is simply a great doom metal record with quality songs all around.
In all, Isole show that they are the complete package. All aspects of this record, from song-writing to execution and packaging, are strong as can be and “Silent Ruins” is an album that deserves a place in any fan of the doom metal genre, regardless of whether it is on account of the beautiful vocals or the impressive quality of the music and production.