Solitude Aeturnus Downfall
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Solitude Aeturnus have been one of the biggest names in epic doom metal for quite a while, combining the solid crushing doom metal of Candlemass with more up-tempo music has lead to them gathering up a fan base all of their own. Their history has been pretty much infallible, and Downfall is no exception, consisting of a wide range of some of their fastest material, and some of their most emotional, although there is a noticeable lack of dirge like slow monsters.
Downfall is one of the bands most riff centric albums. Sure, they′ve always had a lot of interesting riffs on offer, but also tended to have a lot of sections where the guitars were simply heavy backings to Rob Lowe′s epic voice. But that rarely happens here, resulting in the songs being less epic, and instead are catchier little numbers. Songs like “Only This (And Nothing More)” aren′t quite the same sort of epic affair we′re used to, instead is a fairly straight forward deal, catchy and melodic, it′s still got a ″bigger″ sound than most bands, but nothing in comparison to the epic nature other releases. This is the case with most of the album, catchy riffs which, despite being clearly doom, are more melodic doom than epic.
Is this a negative? Not as far as I′m concerned, this album shows a different side to the band. It′s still a fairly extravagant display, with Lowe′s fantastic soaring vocals still all over the place, however, there are still a few little oddities he throws in which break apart the smooth sailing nature of the album, Such as on the track ″Elysium″, which in itself is a throwaway featuring awfully choppy distorted vocals and a lack of music. The guitar soloing is in the same boat, still as stunning and majestic at ever. Just for the main part the riffs aren′t, instead opting for addictive, melodic doom riffs that don′t hit you too hard. Still there′s a brilliant selection of riffs, they′re just a new style. Stuff like ″Together and Wither″ are still huge heavy monsters, although even that song has a break from the monsterous doom, and breaks into a fairly speedy (in comparison to the rest of the song) almost southern riff for the solo.
Still, with the approach focussing on their more melodic, catchy side Downfall is still a Solitude Aeturnus album, and everything that makes this band still here in droves, just presented slightly differently. Lowe′s vocal approach is still as godly as ever, just with less huge wailing and more aggression. The drumwork is exceptional, moving from the standard slow crushing doom rhythms to fast thrash sections flawlessly. And the riffs of course have been discussed in detail, with a more melodic direction, but still quite meaty. This is reflected in the track lengths, which are usually only around 5 minutes or so in length. The only possible flaw is that sometimes you’ll find yourself hoping for something a little bit more epic and huge, but the perfectly arranged up track listing gives you these tracks in a nice controlled manner, meaning you don’t get too much of either style in a row. Scattering out songs like Midnight Dreams with its enormous chorus, although the soft, haunting verse again demonstrates a different approach, between faster songs, like the Christian Death cover Deathwish, which is pretty much a thrash/punk track.
Downfall isn′t the bands strongest release, but it′s certainly up to Solitude Aeturnus quality, and for the reason is impossible to pass up. Better yet, it shows them focussing on a different element of their sound, making this album noticeably different to the rest of the band′s discography. It’s got Solitude Aeturnus on the front, that should be enough to tell that quality is held within.