Soliloquium – Things We Leave Behind Review

Soliloquium’s sophomore album Contemplations was one of those releases I stumbled over in the promo sump and was really surprised by. This Swedish doomy melodeath act hit all the right melancholic sadboi buttons, reminding strongly of early Katatonia and Rapture without ever sounding derivative. It ended up making my Top Ten(ish) for the year and I return to it regularly. I wasn’t aware we were getting a new album this month and we didn’t get the promo until a few days before it released, thus the tardy review. Now that I’ve had some time with their third album, Things We Leave Behind, I’m happy to report it’s another quality release from the duo of Stefan Nordström and Jonas Bergkvist. The album is intended to be a direct continuation of the concepts from Contemplations, an account of “personal hardships, alienation and dark Stockholm nights,” but this chapter is heavier as thoughts and reflections turn to action. All the elements I enjoyed last time are still present and the duo still excel at the downbeat melodeath game. The increased heaviness is met with a greater inclusion of shoegaze and blackened influences this time, making for a more diverse, dynamic experience overall. You could say the highs are higher and the lows are lower, and that’s never a bad thing.

Things open very well with the engaging “Dead Ends,” which breaches the ear with a nifty riff that could have come from any of the early Katatonia albums. Clean, forlorn vocals lead you in before things ramp up into a sharp, cutting mixture of melodeath and blackened riffage. It’s plenty heavy, especially the low-register death croaks, but it remains quite accessible and easy to absorb. “The Discarded” is an early standout, again mining the glory days of acts like Katatonia and Rapture for a compelling melodeath sound sprinkled with plenty of Finnish melodeath tricks. When Mikko Heikkilä (Dawn of Solace, Kaunis Kuolematon) shows up to provide perfectly placed guest vocals, it’s the bone icing on the coffin cake and takes the song to that next level.

The album cleverly hops from heavy to mellow, with cuts like “Reminiscence” and “A Fleeting Moment” based around dreamy, Pink Floyd meets Anathema ideas, offering succor to any frayed nerves caused by the more intense efforts like “Existential Misshape.” It’s the little details on both sides of the band’s palette that make the real difference. The guitar-work in “Existential Misshape” is slick and ear-catching, sitting in that sweet spot where your ears are compelled to pay attention as things shift from aggressive to melancholic and back again. There are no bad songs or weak cuts, but there are a few minor issues. Sometimes the clean vocals remind me a bit too much of the Pet Shop Boys, which is a tad distracting1. Another issue is the length of closer “The Recluse.” It’s a very good song with a hefty Insomnium influence, but at 7:28 it runs just a bit too long. Overall the album is a bit less instantaneous than Contemplations and took a few spins to fully appreciate, but it feels richer for the efforts required.

Stefan Nordström again does a very good job with both vocals and guitar. His death roars are top-notch and righteously heavy, and his blackened cackles are effective and impactful. His cleans are good and appropriately forlorn, and the shifts between the styles are done well. I’m very impressed with his guitar-work across the album. It’s more polished and varied than last time and there are a lot of emotions conveyed through his sad harmonies and he isn’t afraid to crush skulls wit a mean riff when necessary. Jonas Bergkvist never attempts to shove his bass playing to the forefront or seize the listener’s attention, instead remaining content to build a solid foundation from which the compositions can reach skyward. This is a talented twosome and their partnership has once again resulted in some very engaging material directly in the wheelhouse of Steel.

Things We Leave Behind is a another high-qualify dose of melodeath with just the right balance of heaviness and melancholy. It’s a touch more polished and adventurous than Contemplations and heavier to boot. If you’re a fan of the likes of Insomnium, Katatonia and Rapture, this should be a no-brainer. Don’t be a thing left behind.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Rain Without End
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: March 16th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. This clearly doesn’t apply to Mikko Heikkilä’s guest vocals.
« »