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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.