Until their newest release, I had never heard of the British Doom Metal band EYE OF SOLITUDE, despite they being around since 2010. In 2011 the band released its debut album, “The Ghost”. This was followed by two released in 2012: the EP “Awoken By Crows” and the full-length “Sui Caedere”. Last year then the EP “The Deceit” preceded the third album, “Canto III”. “Canto III” was (also) released via Kaotoxin Records in November 2013.
The new album contains 6 tracks, totalling a playtime of more than 60 minutes. The first pressing, limited to 1,000 copies, contains a bonus CD with 7 tracks, taken from previous releases. Lyrically the new album is based on Dante’s “Inferno”. Guest appearances are by Casper (violin) and Anton (vocals) from the Russian band DOMINIA.
The album begins with the atmospheric intro of “Act I: Between Two Worlds (Occularis Infernum)”. It’s quite cinematic with its dark/sad/solemn setting. A clean guitar sound takes over the melody, while keyboards operate from the back. Doom comes in bursts, in vein of EVOKEN, NOVEMBERS DOOM, and similar. The vocals are as gutteral as can be, absolutely awesome! This then makes way for a return of the intro theme, now with Italian speech. Chanting backing vocals add drama and create a melancholic effect. Vile Death/Doom is ready to come out from the darkness afterwards, even goes flawlessly into Death Metal mode and back to Doom, while letting an agonizing lament be expressed. All ends as it began: the intro theme finishes it off. A long track to begin with, but it’s simply massive and very much impressive!
No long intro or building up in “Act II: Where The Descent Began”, as the Metal (music and vox) kicks in right away. I love the contrast of powerful guitars vs atmospheric keyboards. The whole sounds slow and tragedic. It would of course have been a different story, were it fast and joyful. The heaviness falls away after a while, leaving just the piano, the keyboards… and chanting. It sounds like a change of scenery, of other planes of existence. So soft and solemn. A violin adds to the sadness and gloom. But that’s peanuts compared to the Doom and bleak sounds that are to attack your mind. I have to admit, it did sound creepy. Atmospheric Death (!) / Doom then unleashes its wrath: grand, bombastic, hellish, unforgiving. And with militaristic blastbeats! The screams express the agony. All this then reverts back to the slowness of Doom, with melodic support and gutteral vocals. This isn’t the kind of song for the faint of heart or mind.
Another positive and colourful title is “Act III: He Who Willingly Suffers”. But the suffering begins softly, through the piano, interrupted now and then to create some tension. This piece does come back, but with speech, and it’s not always easy what is being said (accent?). Perhaps this is where Anton from DOMINIA comes in. However, it did remind me of SATURNUS, that Danish Melodic Doom formation. In between you get the Funeral/Death/Doom you’ve waiting for. It’s depressing, gloomy and everything this genre has to offer. The melody, delivered via the guitars, only emphasizes this. When the drums are added, in the speech part, the vocals become more dramatic. After that it’s back to the crushing and depressing sounds of Doom. With room for a guitar solo. Death/Doom is the way to go until the end, this time heavier and darker than before! Splendid stuff!
“Act IV: The Pathway Had Been Lost” begins in an accessible manner, very radio-friendly (except for the vocals, of course), but still Doomy and melodic. The song also has a higher tempo (just a bit, though) than before. But slowness is key. An atmospheric break creates tension. A feeling of loss, indeed, stressed by crying and weeping. Clean singing sounds like a lament. The weeping carries on even during the solo, which sounds pretty much inline with it. But fear not, for heaviness lurks around the corner, and when activated, you can clearly hear the difference. At the same time, there’s an increase in drive. All is finally lost when the intro theme returns as outro.
Time for a touch of Doom again, no? “Act V: I Sat In Silence” delivers the goods, and does sound heavier than “Act IV”. The usual ingredients and atmosphere are again applied. In other words, this isn’t happy music. And the deep growls also have returned. A clean guitar break is interrupted by heavy outbursts. A chanting piece follows, guided by the piano. After the change into Funeral/Death/Doom, things speed up a little, there’s more drive, before the band shifts back to a lower gear. The piano is the leading instrument to bring back the silence.
Last but not least: “Act VI: In The Desert Vast”, which begins like an LP that doesn’t want to pick up. Doom does kick in slowly, yet melodic. Gradually power and heaviness are added. But suddenly all stops in favour of the piano. A surprising, but very nice twist, and it sounds like the piano was recorded in a large room. Perhaps it was, and if so, you can clearly hear this. Bonus points for organic sound! And is that a fountain? Rain? I can’t really make it out. But it does help to distinguish the different parts in this long track. The power of Doom returns, this time with a large focus on the guitars. Another sudden stop, this time in favour of a clean guitar piece and a spooky atmosphere. *BAM!* Another shot of grand and bombastic Doom. Which is cut off again by the same clean piece that preceded it. Forever.
Listen to this album when commuting to work, or in your car, and it will be an album like any other. When, however, you take the time to listen to “Canto III”, all by yourself, without exterior interference, on a good stereo system or with decent headphones, then its magic will be properly presented to your ears. The production is very good, as is the mix. The drums – which parts are very interesting, original and tasty! – may sound thin, but when you listen carefully, you’ll hear how much they fit, not just in sound, but also in the mix. Nowadays, most releases have the drums very high in the mix, which tends to put melodies and other details to the back. As much as I love drums, this problem is getting annoying, as it ruins the pleasure of listening to music. But the lads from EYE OF SOLITUDE, or at least the man behind the buttons, did well to not give in to the trend. Another positive aspect of this album, aside from the great music, obviously: the vocals, those low, gutteral growls. The rawness, the sound, … simply amazing. And all this combined makes “Canto III” one of the best (Doom Metal) releases of 2013, but also of the last few years. Heavily recommended!
- Act I: Between Two Worlds (Occularis Infernum)
- Act II: Where The Descent Began
- Act III: He Who Willingly Suffers
- Act IV: The Pathway Had Been Lost
- Act V: I Sat In Silence
- Act VI: In The Desert Vast
Daniel Neagoe – vocals
Indee Rehal-Sagoo – guitar
Mark Antoniades – guitar
Pedro Caballero Clemente – keyboards
Chris Davies – bass
Adriano Ferraro – drums