ApostleOfSolitudeNot too long ago a certain cow tongued wig wearing dinosaur very publicly lambasted the internet and heralded it as the death of rock and roll. I’d like to reply to his contention; fuck off you stack heeled twat! Yes, technology has allowed the unscrupulous to share music for free at the click of a button, and for some engendered an attitude of entitlement, but there have always been such fuds willing to take money out of the pockets of artists, be they large corporations or tape hawking bootleggers of yesteryear. However, that same internet is a fantastic tool of discovery. I remember the days when the only national or international news of music had to be found in a few weekly or monthly magazines who had limited page space, and beyond that you had to rely on word of mouth or good luck to hear about any underground music. An example of the good side of this modern communication is that as I sit here on a grey cloud shrouded Scottish East coast afternoon I am listening to Apostle of Solitude’s ‘Of Woe and Wounds’, a superlative slice of doom from distant Indiana, something I would never encounter if said coffin selling cash whore had his way. Rant over, and onto the music.

After the deathly slog of intro ‘Distance And The Cold Heart’, ‘Blackest Of Times’ is washed from the speakers on a tide of distorted guitars and rumbling bass that crash against granite cliffs of battering drums, all this excellence coming to play before the mournful vocals of Chuck Brown bring an extra level of doom to the mix. ‘Whore’s Wings’ follows with a faster, traditional metal riff, but still angled towards the lower register to keep up the doom, whilst ‘Lamentations of a Broken Man’ is stamped through with a riff straight from the vaults of Tony Iommi; imagine if you will Black Sabbath, but fronted by somebody who can actually still sing and you wouldn’t be far wrong. Next up, and with a title guaranteed to get the bible thumpers up in arms is ‘Die Vicar Die’, a cry from the condemned for forgiveness from a hollow idol. Dark as the theme of the song is, the vocals are at their most heart wrenching and haunting, as if Layne Staley were being channelled from beyond the grave. On an album that has no fillers, it really is a track that stands out.

After this gloom ‘Push Mortal Coil’ positively blasts forth with hooks aplenty to get heads banging, whipping past in a scant five minutes that seem like a sprint compared to most of the rest of the album, but only if you consider listening to Candlemass to be too close to speed metal for your tastes that is. The chest crushing bass blast continues with confidence in ‘This Mania’, the rhythm section making their presence massively apparent, refusing to be outshone by the guitars and vocals that could easily dominate lesser players, the album having a hugely full and deeply resonant sound because of it. This is nowhere more apparent then in ‘Luna’ where there is a full three minutes of instrumental bludgeoning before the vocals cut in with soulful and dark harmonies. Once again I’d like to raise a middle finger to a so called God of Thunder and say this is how a bass is meant to be played; no blood dribbling is necessary.

2014 has seen some excellent Doom metal released from acts both sides of the Atlantic; with ‘Of Woe and Wounds’ Apostle of Solitude have firmly put themselves amongst the best of the year.

(8/10 Spenny)