It’s AGES since I heard anything by Isole. My choice I’m sorry to say, as I heard their debut and follow-up at a time when it seemed like all I was listening to was Metal packed with orchestration, technical arrangements, fast rhythms and soaring vocals. That’s still something I enjoy, but in the last few years I’ve been going back and exploring all the bands I missed out on at that time – bands that I feel I should have given more time and attention to. Isole were on my list and having thoroughly enjoyed last year’s offering by their side project Erab Altor, I felt the time was now! And, it appears…it is!
All I ever seem to have read about Isole is their relation to classic Swedish Doom…and therefore Candlemass, and yes, I hear Candlemass, but maybe joining Isole at this late stage in their career has possibly had a different impact on me – Isole have more to their sound than just Doom Metal from 30 years ago. It’s Doom Metal of an Epic magnitude on offer here (only 1 of 7 songs is under 7 minutes!), with a full, modern production and arrangement, delivered with energy and progressive imagination…but still incorporating much gloominess from the present as well as the past. Yes OK, Solstice, While Heaven Wept, Memento Mori, Solitude Aeturnus – and therefore inevitably the last Candlemass album with Robert Lowe on vocals spring to mind more than a few times, but there is another edge to the band. Maybe because of Ereb Altor I’m detecting a more Nordic tinge to proceedings, but also with me being from grey old Yorkshire, I hear occasional hints of My Dying Bride and even Paradise Lost in a couple of the guitar melodies – and after all, this release is being touted as ‘Epic Progressive Doom Metal’…but maybe I’m getting carried away and run the risk of frightening traditional Doomsters away – don’t worry guys, there are plenty of BIG riffs – some long and melancholy, others heavy and chuggy, and all very much in the classic Doom vein.
There IS something very Swedish about Isole 2014 though, an unmistakeable Scandinavian edge in some tracks that their particular brand of Doom has. There is a coldness, a bleakness – it feels more ‘ice-capped’ than American Doom for instance. And then, some of the vocal lines have that Tyr-esque, Viking quality, which when mixed with a more expected vocal style (‘Dead To Me [The Destroyer Pt1]’ is a great example) gives the band an initially hidden edge that then seems to seep into the guitar lines too. But then, given that, ‘Perdition’ is as classic a Doom Metal track as anyone could hope for in just about every way…but even then, a little extra energy and fire creeps into the double-kick drum powered middle section, just to keep the listener on their toes.
So I’ve rediscovered Isole and I like what I hear – I kind of knew I would. All the right elements are there. The album is a grower, which is essential with classic Epic Doom Metal. There are hidden depths – another plus, some great songs and arrangements, and with a band on album number six you just know the musical presentation is of the highest order – and it is. Also, I’m chuffed I got to use the word “chuggy” in a review again. I hope to use it more in the future…
(7.5/10 Andy Barker)