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An Amazing Amalgamation - 90%

globaldomination, September 2nd, 2008

I’ll admit it right now, I’m a newbie to the doom-death genre. More accurately, to the doom genre in general. Sure, I listen to Black Sabbath. I mean, who the fuck doesn’t? But everything else I’ve heard that was labeled doom sucked, including the soundtrack for the video game Doom. Lots of ugly clean singing, shit that was far to slow, and boatloads of keyboard gayness. And lots of guns firing – but that’s just in the video game.

In a miraculous turn of events, a trade with a friendly metalhead in Russia has led me to abandon my anti-doom platform. Celestial Season’s “Solar Lovers” is damn good, and it makes me want to seek out other stuff in the same style. In fact, I just bought me a Swallow the Sun album…so the addiction begins. “Solar Lovers” (who are quite likely to develop skin cancer) avoids the pitfalls of the doom-death genre – it is just about cheese-free.

Let us be free of complaints before we start the fellatio. There ain’t much to mention here, but I will try. The production makes everything a little fuzzy, but that works in Celestial Season’s favor for the most part. There’s a bit of repetition in some of the songs, most apparent on “Vienna.” By the way, “Vienna” is a cover of the 80’s synth-pop group Ultravox. Which would normally register as a complaint with me, if the song weren’t so damn catchy. I brought this up to a buddy of mine last night (who loves 80’s synth-pop, which is a crime against the human race) and he said Ultravox was one of the coldest, most clinical 80’s albums he had ever heard. Cold like cvut and trooo? I’m guessing not. Probably cold like there were no actual performances, just a roomful of keyboards feeding feces directly into a computer for maximum profit via album sales.

That wasn’t much of a criticism against the album, was it? Perhaps that’s because the album is fucking good, so fuck criticism. Celestial Season apparently changed gears from a doom-death to a stoner metal over their lifespan. They’re from the Netherlands, so just be happy they never played tulip-metal or something. Anyway, this album does show a transition between more traditional dirgy, doomy plodding and a kind of fuzzy, upbeat stoner sensation. The two mix nicely.

So what will you hear when you press play? I heard lots of nice violins, cellos, a crunchy guitar that pumps out one meaty riff after the next with occasional cat-being-raped (in a good way) solos, a bass that merges into the heaviness, some ocean noises and other little samples, and some low-effort but still just fine drumming. You may hear nothing, because you may be deaf. Then again, why the fuck would you be on a music site if you were deaf? Maybe metal MADE you deaf, and you still love the genre even though you can’t hear shit. Everything is possible.

The vocals are what really convinced me to like this band. If the vocals are bad, I just can’t listen to whatever it may be. Even if the music rules, bad vocals just put me off. And something about the way the vox are handled on this one is satisfactory. There are occasional clean passages, but mostly it is just death growls and talking in a rhythmic way to the beat. Not rapping, motherfucker. Just talking like you are tough. Like that song “Where the Slime Live” by Morbid Angel. Just like that. Stop asking, that is what it sounds like.

Every song is good, but some standouts are the beautiful opener “Decamerone”, “Dancing to a Thousand Symphonies”, and that fucking “Vienna”. It is stuck in my head even now. Fuck. The whole mood of the album is well maintained. There’s definitely some sadness, mixed in with an upbeat feeling – like the drugs kicked in, then the drugs wore off, then you spark/cook up/drop/huff/snort again. A few short instrumentals transition brilliantly into the next big track – most of these bad boys are over 6 minutes long.

So buy it for a nice doom-death album with a bit of stoner thrown in that is virtually free of gayness. Though doom metal always does have a tint of the gay about it – all this shit about your feelings is not your typical extreme metal lyrical fare. Killing, Cthulhu, and vikings – that’s what I want to hear when I put on anything with “death” attached to it. But “Solar Lovers” just may be my window into the softer side of evil.

9 out of 10

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