ALBUM REVIEW: Apostle Of Solitude ‘Of Woe And Wounds’

ApostleOfSolitude-Cover

APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE
‘Of Woe And Wounds’
Cruz Del Sur Music
(Released 31 October 2014)
9/10

Any doom metal band can claim to reach the blackest depths of sorrow and ruin. But for the average listener it’s less about the destination and more about how they get there. Some bands walk, some crawl, and some even piggy-back their forebears. When you travel with Apostle Of Solitude, however, you travel by chariot!

This is a band with the skill and poise to temper their passion for all-out misery and forge it into something more dangerous. These American doomsters have harnessed their suffering and breathed new life into it, creating music that is both dark and vivid. In many ways, Apostle Of Solitude are a traditional doom metal band, but they have taken the early 1990s model and then modernised and adapted it to their own will. They are reminiscent of the tragically under-rated German band Doomshine in terms of their sheer quality, consistency and subtle creativity. With maybe a hint of US compatriots Beelzefuzz.

Slow, rapturous riffs fill the air like thick incense, intoxicating. Chunky twin guitars are enhanced by the rumbling bass and immense drums. Chuck Brown’s vocals are clean and measured. As the album develops, its processional lumber becomes increasingly limber as greater complexity and variety is added, resulting in a textured and rewarding whole. This is a flag in the sand for American doom metal.

It’s not epic as such; nor is it especially heavy or funereal. It’s simply excellent metal, jam-packed with interesting stuff and boasting a broad musical and thematic scope. We may be thundering towards the shadowed gates of Hell, but we might as well enjoy ourselves along the way, right?

The first few songs showcase Apostle Of Solitude’s ability to write a killer doom metal riff, while tracks such as ‘Die Vicar Die’ see the band plant a seed and patiently water it until it blossoms into something beautiful. The crunching guitars come to the fore on the mid-tempo NWOBHM/Sabbathian giant ‘Push Mortal Coil’, which sees them dip a tentative toenail into rocky waters. The following song, ‘This Mania’, finds the band in even faster, angrier mode, producing an anthemic mixture of Solitude Aeturnus, Pantera and Entombed.

On the whole, ‘Of Woe And Wounds’ is dynamic, diverse and inventive, although it does pander to the occasional genre cliche. The song ‘Lamentations Of A Broken Man’ is slightly simplistic, the gloomy grunge of ‘Luna’ a bit uncertain, like YOB flirting with Alice In Chains, and many of the vocal harmonies are wholly unnecessary – though admittedly more restrained than many bands in this field.

‘Of Woe And Wounds’ is a powerful and original album, packed with sophisticated and hugely enjoyable doom metal anthems. Indianapolis’s Apostle Of Solitude recently celebrated their tenth anniversary and with their third full-length album have staked a claim to be the American masters of doom.

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