England’s Eye of Solitude floored the unsuspecting masses last year with the epic Canto III, a funeral doom masterpiece that made them a band to watch out for. Hell, it even landed at #2 on my Top Ten(ish) Albums of 2013 list. Not ones to sit back and rest on their funeral wreaths, they return with Dear Insanity, an ambitious 50-minute, one song EP chronicling a man’s decent into utter chaos and insanity. Seeing as how they quite remarkably captured feelings of doom and despair with Canto III, they’re sure to replicate that magic again, right?
Well, you may wanna sit down. Not only sit down, but possibly find something to do as you’re listening to this song. After eight solid minutes(!!!) of keyboards whooshing, people screaming, and other ambient noises clamoring about, the trademark cavernous roar of Daniel Neagoe finally kicks off the song in earnest. And by “kick,” I mean “travel at a rather glacial crawl” as the pace never goes above that of a sloth riding a turtle on downers to a SunnO))) show.
Eye of Solitude‘s expert use of tremolo as a suffocating blanket is nowhere to be found on “Dear Insanity.” What is in abundance, however, is the sheer amount of ambient fluff that drags the song out for too long. In small doses, yes, it can be effective, but using it as the first eight minutes of a 50 minute song is a bit much. Thankfully, things do pick up later as Neagoe begins to sing delicately around the halfway point. There’s also a beautiful guitar solo by Mark Antoniades at around 40:04 before fading out with a single heartwrenching piano plinking away.
As with Canto III, Giannis Nakos did the phenomenal cover art, and the production is quite heavy and suffocating without being brickwalled or noisy. In other words, sonically it’s quite suitable for such heavy purging. I just wish I could say the same about the actual song in question. Look, I’m all for ambience and build-ups, but when you pad your almost-hour-long song to the point of it being 50% ambient backdrops, I take issue with it. And it guts me because these guys are capable of leveling the opposition with quality doom, and the payoff, albeit beautiful as it is, just isn’t enough to make me want to come back for repeated listens.
With great risks can come great rewards. I applaud Eye of Solitude for having the guts to put out a 50-minute long song. I just wish it gelled together better. For an agonizing journey into the depths of depravity, I could only enjoy half of the trek, hence the score. I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come.