An exalted opening riff with keyboard accents soon leads to an up-tick in pace that generally reminds of a latter day NOVEMBERS DOOM cadence. A classic melodic doom vocal emerges amidst backing chants, the thunderous double-bass punching in for emphasis, then breaking and giving way to a mighty rhythmic thump, more chanting, an ominous guitar line and resplendent lead vocals. A lightly picked pattern and an Eastern-sounding guitar lead then commences before the song returns to the original verse. It is all over in 11 minutes, yet it is as though no time has passed at all. And that's just the first song, "From the Dark", from ISOLE's new album, "Silent Ruins", a platter of hopelessness that is breathtaking in its elegance.The enchantment continues for another 43 minutes, the six remaining tracks moving along at a pace generally quicker than previous albums and always swallowing the listener whole with a nearly flawless conveyance of musical melancholy. "Silent Ruins" tells the tale of "someone waking up without any recollection of how the world came to an end", as each song reveals "more details and memories that lead to a devastating conclusion." Put in that context, "Silent Ruins" is just plain chilling, even frightening, as it pulls the listener into the abyss, the moods ebbing and flowing along the way. Songs like "Forlorn" (interestingly enough, the original name of this group) have a mystical feel with mid-paced riffing and solos that are seemingly wrenched out from the strings and always played in service to the central melody. That one in particular is rather hypnotic. Then again, Daniel and Crister come up with riffs that one can feel in the pit of the stomach during every one of these deep cuts. Daniel's vocals throughout are superb, at times approaching the unearthly power of a Messiah Marcolin or a (especially) Robert Lowe — "Nightfall" has a serious CANDLEMASS by way of SOLITUDE AETURNUS feel. The beautiful acoustic passages during "Soulscarred", the moroseness of the vocals and keys on "Peccatum", and the grand finality of "Dark Clouds" with those haunting low-register vocals combine to close out the album with a wave of emotions. Even the incredibly annoying voice-overs on the promotional copy cannot destroy the moods created. What more can be said? ISOLE does it again. Doom on, people; doom on.
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