Doom metal, at the turn of the century, after the dawn of its discovery, seemed to evolve into a self indulgent art. Bands sought epic construction and grandness at the expense of song values and general common musical sense. The mantra of the day seemed to be; “the thicker, the better!”. Thankfully we still had Solitude Aeturnus. On “Through The Darkest Hour” they show how the art should be practiced. The songs here are lean and mean-epicness and grandiosity being more of enveloping concepts that govern than literal devices with which to tire the listener. Edgar Rivera and John Perez’ guitar work uses simplicity to make its points and as a result they deliver some memorable riffs like the ones that grace “Falling”, “Haunting The Obscure” and “Pain”. Rob Lowe might at first come across as a tad diminished due to the fact that he’s not soaring with athletic ease as he did on “Into The Depths Of Sorrow” or “Beyond The Crimson Horizon” but he has in fact never sounded better. He opens the album weary and thin on “Falling” but by “Haunting The Obscure” signs of anger and well worn rage are audibly visible. When “Pain” comes through, he is not
just bleating, he is sounding a strong throaty anguished cry for the coming ages. It is this, his uncanny ability to faithfully convey dark emotion that still remains Solitude Aeturnus’ calling card. Musically, the band is a lot more dynamic than ever, throwing wholly unexpected calm lake moments amidst a sea of cloying heaviness. The chugging riffs are aplenty but they are gracefully subtle and work well as passages unto more layered, sonically interesting parts. “Pawns Of Anger” is a case in point. The truly great thing about “Through The Darkest Hour” is that each song when given the time and attention it truly deserves, shines on its own. The album is devoid of filler and feels and sounds altogether wholesome. In fact the only gripe I had was that some songs seemed to end too soon but multiple listens assured me that part of its charm is the band’s knack for knowing when to hit the lights. Sheer genius from start to finish, this is definitely one for the ages.
For fans of: Candlemass, Sanctuary, Crimson Glory, Black Sabbath, Witchcraft