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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