Eye of Solitude_CantoIts been a long time since I’ve been impressed by a doom metal record. You would figure it would be a pretty easy thing to get the hang of, if you think about it: create an atmosphere of (circle one:  sorrow, solitude, deep introspection) utilizing well-timed (female vocals, violin, acoustic guitar) passages before (crushing ruthlessly, lamenting sadly, turning loose some swans). Yet somehow, at best, recent doom releases have given me a feeling of “meh,” and at worst, eliciting some unintentional chuckles. Eye of Solitude have a few things going for them: they’re young (only been around since 2010), they’re UK-based (and they KNOW their doom metal over there), and they’re hungry. Canto III, their third album, not only has given me hope for the genre once more, but they also have a serious contender for a Best of 2013 record.

Some synths and timpani drumming kick off “Act I: Between Two Worlds (Occularis Infernum),”followed by some morose riffing (think Solinari-era Morgion) before the sub-guttural growls of Daniel Neagoe launch the song in earnest almost three minutes in. Already, there’s a suffocating feeling of dread and despair, further punctuated by near-Gregorian chanting at the 4:08 mark, Neagoe’s growling in Latin, and the intro guitar riff played solemnly again by bassist Chris Davies until, at 5:18, it turns into a doom-metal equivalent of Bolt Thrower.  You can go back and read that sentence again. I’ll wait. Blast beats and flourishes (expertly played by Adriano Ferrano), tremolo-picked rhythms, alternating low/mid growls… and not once does the feeling of despair diminish via tempo change or insane aggression. When the song finally ends, you feel like you’ve just got your soul sucked out of you.

Eye of Solitude_2013And they keep up this feeling throughout all 66 minutes of Canto III.  A large part of that atmosphere is achieved courtesy of keyboardist Pedro Caballero-Clemente. His tasteful piano playing sets up the standout “Act III: He Who Willingly Suffers”; not overdone, frilly, or cheesy at all, it’s a simple-yet-effective melody which conveys the mood better than any overwrought orchestral patch could ever do. Between Cabellero-Clemente’s melodies and the drums of Ferrano midway through the song, it keeps the it engaging even before the tremolo-picked madness by guitarists Indee Rehal-Sagoo and Mark Antoniades resumes. “Act V:  I Sat In Silence” slows the overall tempo down just a hair (note the “overall,” as it’s still got its fast moments), with a beautifully sung passage midway through the song, and a solemn, heartrending keyboard outro.

If there’s any knocks on this record, it’s mostly the production.  It can be a little bit too suffocating at times, most notably on the fast parts where it feels like it blurs together.  However, that also works to the album’s advantage, as the suffocating feeling adds to the overall atmospheric package.  Also, some of Neagoe’s vocals can be a bit too overdramatic (the Latin growling in “Act I…,” the faux-crying in “Act III…”), but he’s an impressive growler and singer, so that’s really nitpicking.

So, Anathema, My Dying Bride, and Paradise Lost finally have a little brother worthy of continuing their storied lineage in UK-based death doom. Eye of Solitude impresses on Canto III like a group of seasoned bards, and this is only their third album and third year of existence.  If they keep up this trend, their name will be said in the same hushed, respected tones as their predecessors. Definitely worthy of owning [And that’s quite an awesome cover too! — Steel “Art Critic” Druhm].

Rating: 4.5/5.0
Label: Kaotoxin Records
Website: facebook.com/eyeofsolitudeband
Release Dates: 25.11.2013 (EU) | 12.03.2013 (US)

  • I liked their 2012 record pretty well, too. I’m looking forward to giving this a shot.

  • Игорь Чернов

    artwork is pure awesomeness

  • RagE

    There was a full album stream a few weeks back, and i really enjoyed that, in that special way one enjoys good doom. half way through this epic you feel like you have the weight of the world crushing your soul into a black hole of despair. And the vocals are fantastic! the deep deep growls fits very well with the underlying theme of hopelessness.

  • Feytalist

    I love me some doom. I’m certainly checking these guys out (purely on the strength of the review).

    And that artwork *is* delicious.

  • basenjibrian

    Awesome! I also enjoyed their 2012 release!

  • Mike Eckman

    I don’t have a lot of free time, especially not to sit and listen to new music very often. So, unfortunately this means that many times whenever I am checking out a new band, I had to do it while working or multi-tasking. This often involves listening to said new music at a low volume while I am doing something else.

    While most music undoubtedly sounds better the louder you play it, this method is usually enough for me to decide whether I will like something or not. If it sounds like crap at a low volume, cranking it up probably wont help, but if I hear something that I like or sounds interesting, I will queue it up for my drive home (gotta love cars that can stream Bluetooth).

    Anyway, after checking out Eye of Solitude, I was left with a very ‘meh’ feeling. I just couldnt hear anything worthwhile of a repeat listen during my busy day.

    Yet, the review here is glowing, comparisons to My Dying Bride, Anathema, and Paradise Lost are not things you would say to just any band, plus 4.5 ratings don’t often come out of bands at AMG.COM, especially doom bands.

    So, I decided to give these guys another chance, put on my headphones and crank it up, and holy cow, these guys ARE good!

    Somehow, this is the kind of music that sounds terrible at low volumes, but awesome louder! I am glad I gave them another chance and look forward to letting all of the little nuances and intricacies of this album sink in further! :)

  • doom-erik

    Speaking about death/doom in classic British style – you AMG-guys should review the new album from Irish doomsters Mourning Beloveth (“Formless”). I haven’t listened to them since the first couple of albums and I didn’t expect so much – but damn their new album is great. Doom/death with guitar-driven melodies and without too much funeral doom contamination is very hard to find nowadays. Could be the best doom metal release of 2013.

  • Pascual Villaseca

    it reminds me a little bit of Mar de grises’s “draining the waterheart” album.
    Glad i find out about Eye of Solitude