Tuesday, October 25, 2016

review: Eye Of Solitude

Matt Spall has written a review of the funeral doom band Eye of Solitude (U.K.). The band has some four albums, in addition to EPs and other recordings, but Matt focuses here on the latest recording from 2016: the new album.---MMB
Artist: Eye Of Solitude
Album Title: Cenotaph
Label: Independent Release
Date Of Release: 31 August 2016
I’m not the biggest fan of pure doom metal, but once in a while, I will succumb to it if it is good enough. And today, I have well and truly succumbed. Referring to themselves as ‘lugubrious doom metal’, London-based funeral doom quintet Eye Of Solitude create one hell of a noise and have had rather a profound impact upon me.
Formed in 2010 and now comprised of the somewhat enigmatically-named vocalist Daniel N, guitarists Mark A and Steffan G, bassist Chris D, and drummer Adriano Ferraro, Eye Of Solitude live up to their billing as they well and truly sound sad and dismal. Not only that, but they have the knack of crushing the listener with uncompromising monolithic-paced riffing one minute, and then opening up into something intense and gorgeous the next.
‘Cenotaph’ is an album consisting of just four songs. However, as each has a running time of over ten minutes apiece, the record has a total length that approaches the hour mark. This gives you a good indication of what to expect but far from being overwhelmed or indeed underwhelmed, I find myself ensconced in the bludgeoning beauty and sheer unrelenting intensity, easily ready to press play again the moment ‘Cenotaph’ comes to an end.
‘Cenotaph’ opens with the title track and initially, I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. For several minutes, the guitars churn and writhe, almost in slow motion. Like a river of lava, the bruising riffs keep coming, inching forward and relentlessly destroying all in their path. They are joined by a voice that, by all accounts, took a day off from maiming and torturing souls in the pits of hell to ‘sing’ on this record. Deep, guttural growls that are occasionally barely audible over the guitars add a further layer of brutality, conveying a sinister, malevolent despair and anguish.
There are moments of intensity where the drums are concerned, although the instrument is used sparingly for large parts, acting as an embellishment or as a vague metronomic beat, out on the periphery much of the time. The use of simple synths to underpin the riffs and provide a modicum of softening atmosphere is a good move too, a welcome addition to the uncompromising tumult elsewhere, even though they create another layer of despondency.
Out of nowhere, clean vocals join a prolonged quiet synth passage before the hitherto suffocating composition opens up like a delicate flower in the spring sunlight. The pace isn’t increased but the melodic intent certainly is. The lead guitar-led melody is stunning in its fragility and simplicity, to a point where I am utterly smitten and entranced on a first spin, a feeling that just intensifies over repeated listens.
Each of the four tracks has very much its own identity but there is a definite pattern within them all. Each features those brutal slow-paced riffs, atmospheric keyboards, guttural growls and at certain points, an injection of sumptuous melody.
The synths open up ‘A Sombre Guest’ with the promise of an inner beauty before the bludgeoning begins. This time however, the early presence of melody is carried through the entirety of the track, even when the doom metal is at its most severe and bruising. I also love the cinematic and brooding mid-section that acts as a breather, not to mention a heightening of the drama and an increase in the melancholy inherent within the composition. When the riffs re-enter the fray, their impact is all the greater, coaxed along by grandiose and epic synths that are inspired. Hell, I like this.
It takes a while for ‘This Goodbye. The Goodbye’ to launch into all-out funeral doom mode, as the early stages are dominated by dark, cloying atmospheres. And, whilst I enjoy the heavier parts of this track, the most striking part has to be the lone piano that plays a mournful dirge atop the sounds of a windswept and lonely vista, only to be replaced unceremoniously by pained cries and forlorn shrieks which accompany the returning brutality and borderline musical discordance.
‘Cenotaph’ is then closed out by ‘Loss’ that features more great intense doom riffs. However, like the predecessor, it is another section of the track which catches my attention. This time it is the extended section of emotional-sounding clean vocals that is worthy of plenty of praise. Mind you, the ensuing melody that wraps itself around the riffs to create something truly epic and majestic is equally wonderful and fulfilling. The blastbeat drums are a nice touch even if they sound a touch plastic and devoid of anything approaching an organic feel. But to focus on that would detract from the sheer beauty and majesty of this composition.
All-in-all, I am nothing but thoroughly impressed by Eye Of Solitude and ‘Cenotaph’. It has come out of nowhere to quite easily become one of the best, if not the best, doom metal albums of 2016. I simply cannot get enough of the inspired mix of brutality and sombre beauty. Now, if Eye Of Solitude can continue to produce music of this quality over future albums, in direct contrast to their output, their future might be very rosy indeed.
The Score Of Much Metal: 8.5
Eye Of Solitude - This Goodbye. The Goodbye (Official Video)
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