When those stately riffs ponderously march in, and that voice soars above them, the criminally long wait since the last SOLITUDE AETURNUS album will disappear in your mind. The hair will raise on the back of your neck, your spine will tingle, and that inimitable doom sound will flood your spirit once again, reminding anyone who doubted that this band is, if not the best classic doom metal band in history, at the very least the best one still active today.Not sure who we're talking about here? You're forgiven — after all, there hasn't been new SOLITUDE product on the racks since 1999's "Adagio", and it's been a while longer than that since the band was a priority of anyone doing any sort of promotion. What you need to know is that vocalist Robert Lowe is possessed of a soaring, emotive voice that manages to be as viscerally satisfying as it is technically impressive, and that the band has all but written the book on American doom metal. They single-handedly carry the torch for this melodic, epic form, equaling the grandeur of CANDLEMASS at their peak, and possessing the class and staid grace of prime Dio-era SABBATH. Big words? Yes, but if you've fallen under the SOLITUDE spell, you know it's all true. Perhaps fittingly after such a long absence, "Alone" kicks off with a weighty nine-minute tome, "Scent of Death", presenting the revamped lineup to the world with a crystal-clear manifesto that the band is still beholden to utter doom. Occasional tasteful keyboards aside, this band is all about laying down granite slabs of larger-than-life riffs, striking big, clean, obsidian open chords and leaving plenty of wide-open space for Lowe to theatrically deliver his melodramatic odes with wide-eyed conviction and effortless grace. Just listen to "Upon Within", for example — the building blocks of the song are so simple, they're primitive, but delivered by this band, with this much smoldering intensity and finesse, the song becomes a doom classic. While "Alone" has a very back-to-basics feel to it, not every song plods at a funereal pace; "Sightless" lurches into a menacing midtempo, and other songs often shift unexpectedly into more upbeat moments. SOLITUDE AETURNUS are masters at adding dynamics to their sound – giving each song personality and avoiding monotony — while never straying from the cathartic bleakness and majestic gloom of their overall sound. It'll take more time to live with it before rash statements like "best album ever" can be made, but damned if "Alone" isn't at least on par with the band's revered back catalog. I'd hate to say "Alone" was "worth the wait", because it might somehow lead to another eight-year delay in getting a follow-up. But whatever tribulations kept this Texas quintet off the record racks in this millennium, they've only made the band stronger, even more in touch with their solemn muse, and capable of delivering timeless, classic metal in an era that sees damn little of it. An absolute must-have.
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