So begins and ends; the year of doom.
Most people who read my reviews know I have a certain penchant for doom metal; more often than not I’ll be writing about the monolithic melancholic displays of unending compositions that draw in the listener with every ringing chord and lengthy death growl. Eye Of Solitude are a frequent listen of mine and that’s quite a feat considering the kind of music they record – here, they fit the bill perfectly.
Let’s get a few things out of the way; Eye Of Solitude are no flash in a pan. Having released a number of releases starting with a sold out debut, critically acclaimed follow ups, a number of EP’s and some of the finest deathened inspired doom metal fans anywhere are likely to hear in the forms of ‘Sui Caedere’ and ‘Canto III’. Fortunately, the band never found a way to stagnate or slow. The success that most bands takes years to achieve Eye Of Solitude conquered from their inception. Starting out as a solo project, the wall of sound grew; transformed and matured as members were added to the roster. Eye Of Solitude stopped being a musical output and became sheer momentum, in truth it’s this state of being that keeps their music so fresh, taking hold of the listeners’ emotive stance. This is not happy music, you should have guessed that by the somber notes pouring through the speaker.
Fast forward a few years and Eye Of Solitude are releasing their fourth studio full-length, titled ‘Cenotaph’ and the band’s focus is clearer than ever. The art is bleak, oppressive and daunting. Life is absent from this image but there is still the foundation to house it, even if it’s not supported by an unforgiving environment. It ties in well with this oppressive wall of sound as the melancholic atmosphere lifts with each crescendo and kilters when the music minimalist in its being. To describe an album of this magnitude with a smattering of words on a screen don’t do justice to a record so monolithic it could out-do the pioneers to which the standards are created. ‘Cenotaph’ is a record defining a pioneering doom group in the modern age. From the opening notes of the album’s self-titled track it’s clear that Eye Of Solitude’s wall of sound is for sheer impact. Daniel’s demonic growls punch through the speakers, long and low identifying his terrifying growl as the best in the industry and while that may teeter on the edge of fanboyism, it’s actually an understatement. Slow tempos collide with low-tuned chordal structures and punching percussion, capped by Daniel’s trademark roar. Each aspect is clear; from the synth providing the atmospherics to the low minimalistic crescendo that builds towards the end of the track where clean vocals dominate the soundscapes. It’s a mind bending contrast, charged with emotion as the more melodious features of the group come to the forefront. Heavy chords are replaced with ringing slow leads as the song tracks its own natural progression. The ability of Eye Of Solitude to bring musical ideas together without forcing a certain sound or influence defines them as musicians, highlighting the sheer quality this UK band has.
Things only improve as the album continues. Despite having only four tracks and a run-time of 56 minutes, ‘Cenotaph’ doesn’t drag or misstep. The record’s second track, ‘A Somber Guest’ further defines Eye Of Solitude’s doom domination. Yes the ringing chords and growls are as present as always, but Eye Of Solitude have continued the vibes left in 2014’s ‘Dear Insanity’ EP showing greater respect for ‘how the individual elements all interact with each other. Layer upon layer is added to the foundations on which Daniel’s growls rest on. It showcases each of the band’s elements – not as individuals, but as a working machine with each gear clicking into the right space at the right time. Sure, the fifteen minute track time may be a turn off for some newer listeners, but there are those (me included) who wouldn’t mind a three hour long funeral doom opus from the Eye Of Solitude camp. ‘A Somber Guest’ would be a highlight of Eye Of Solitude’s career, if only the rest of this album wasn’t as good. As it stands, there is no ‘single’ highlight to be found here. All fifty-six minutes of this recording are deserving of their attention and define today’s Eye Of Solitude.
Comparatively, this is the musically thickest Eye Of Solitude album to date. Aided by a quality production and sweltering atmospherics there are no blank voids to be filled by insatiable cliché or underlying contriving notion. Tracks like ‘This Goodbye. The Goodbye’ stand as tributes, not defined by the band who wrote the music but in how Eye Of Solitude can reach out to the listeners’ mind-state and really interact with their fans. The somber notes that propel the music forward into a rather emotive charged depressive state only intensify when the vocal sounds combine with this UK based soundscape. Instrumentally this album is absurdly perfect, the production only aids its transference from band to listener without cheapening or choking the atmospheric effect needed to bring all these elements together. The track also features the vocal parts of Déhá (We All Die (Laughing), Yhdarl, IMBER LUMINIS, AURORA BOREALIS, KHEL, ADN, MERDA MUNDI, NOD, ALENDA, SLOW) who sounds possessed as he pours what’s left into the end of the track. Coupled with Daniel’s unearthly growls, Déhá manages to wrap a soundscape of despair into the depths of Eye Of Solitudes music. It’s a blend of depressive black metal and funeral doom that sticks in the listeners’ minds even as the album progresses into its closing track.
It’s unlike me to list each and every track of an album in any review but it’s hard to do an album like this justice without every mention. ‘Cenotaph’s’ closing chapter simply titled, ‘Loss’ marks a culmination of the Eye Of Solitude soundscape, bringing every element of the band’s past and present together in a thirteen minute opus. Ethereal clean tones fill the room adding a classical influence to the band’s closing masterstroke. A simple repeating melody only increases the haunting atmospherics created by the clean vocal croons, echoed for full effect. The track itself doesn’t stay ‘clean’ as the track progresses into the band’s natural doom elements. Daniel’s vocals will long be the talking point of this band, putting them on full display throughout the record. ‘Loss’ moves forward in a rather optimistic way (slightly ironic considering the title) and the instrumental efforts become up-tempo, cresendo – to full effect. The band’s death/doom influence here is outstanding as Adriano Ferraro’s bass work accelerates into a glorious climax. The dual guitar efforts of Mark Antoniades and Steffan Gough are also showcased here as notes blend into riffs, notes trill into pure atmosphere, there’s even room to headbang. The boys know their job – and they do it well.
Overall it’s a wonder that more people aren’t talking about this band. Eye Of Solitude deserve the hype and while metal enthusiasts are currently digging the likes of Inter Arma’s and Inverloch’s newest records (both of which are spectacular) and Monolithe’s ‘Zeta Reticuli’ (which regrettably fell short of expectation), ‘Cenotaph’ (released September 1) will not only turn heads, but dominate this year’s metal releases. ‘Cenotaph’ has a lasting value rarely seen in doom metal and a replay value that is sure to last for years and while we know that the guys from Eye Of Solitude are great at pumping out high quality doom metal, I’ll be interested to see just what the future has in store for them (hopefully a three-hour long epic?). Let me not undersell this album. Modern music has come a long way, Eye Of Solitude had a head-start in the talent department, ‘Cenotaph’ is a representation of the excellence modern doom has to offer.
2. A Somber Guest
3. This Goodbye. The Goodbye
Daniel Neagoe – Vocals
Chris Davies – Bass
Adriano Ferraro – Drums
Mark Antoniades – Guitars
Steffan Gough – Guitars