Released: 2013, Kaotoxin Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Now that the weather is getting colder, the leaves are falling and the sun is spending less time in the sky each day, it’s a perfect time of year to start cranking out the doom metal again. Summer’s over so we can put away the thrash albums, cancel all the parties and spend several months alone in darkened rooms, revelling in bloody minded misery. And what better time for London based act Eye Of Solitude to release ‘Canto III?’ A punishing, dense and grueling six tracks of pure sonic desolation, it’s not a record you could ever truly enjoy, but as a listening experience it is nothing short of exemplary.
For starters, even by the standards of their chosen genre, ‘Act I Between Two Worlds (Occularis Infernum)’ is a long ‘un. Clocking in at a massive fourteen minutes, it’s a remorselessly heavy and slow opener, chock full of grinding, ominous riffs and low-register growls. They’re very reminiscent of Ahab, only without the nautical obsession or whales bursting out of the artwork. Thanks to the understated keyboard work of Pedro Caballero Clemente, it’s steeped in atmosphere and is crying out to be the soundtrack to a night spent in isolation reading the works of Edgar Allen Poe.
It’s barely the tip of the anguished iceberg however as ‘Act II Where The Descent Began’ offers no respite. Rather than build gradually as the first song did, this one explodes with a deep, resonating vocal that sounds like a volcano going off. But about three minutes in, there’s some surprisingly effective clean passages from singer Daniel Neagoe and an extended sequence where they show off the softer side of doom. It’s a relatively sedate couple of minutes but is no less funereal than the heavy parts and clear evidence that Eye Of Solitude know how to maintain the intensity even when the distortion pedals are turned off.
Perhaps the biggest curveball they throw however comes in ‘Act III He Who Willingly Suffers.’ Up until now, things have moved at a plodding pace, like the march of the legions of the damned as they shuffle, chained together towards Charon’s barge on the river Styx. But then suddenly, the gloom is pierced as a lightning-fast guitar solo rips through. It’s a rare moment of high speed fret board masturbation and while it initially seems like it was recorded by the power metal band in the studio next door, it works incredibly well.
And as ‘Canto III’ enters its second half, things don’t get any less bleak. ‘Act IV The Pathway Has Been Lost’ is a dark paean to eternal suffering where gasps of weeping occasionally break the surface, ‘Act V I Sat In Silence’ contains moments of almost Nordic torment and closer ‘Act VI In The Desert Vast’ is a last roar of inhuman grief at the gates of hell. This is not music that’ll take you to a happy place. You can’t mosh to it, you certainly can’t sing along to it and only the most nihilistic individuals will be able to dance to it, but as far as all-consuming walls of pain go, Eye Of Solitude know their stuff. And when we say ‘anguish’ we mean it; not the heart-breaking loss you would associate with a break-up or broken friendship, but rather than the soul-destroying horror of staring into a world without hope. Have a happy Winter kids!
Review by Tim Bolitho-Jones