Album of the Week 41-2013: In Solitude – Sister

While most of the bigger names within the Metal genre are releasing sub-par or even downright disappointing albums this year, it’s good to see that some of the younger bands are keeping up a certain standard. In fact, this third album of Sweden’s In Solitude – of which the oldest members are in their mid-twenties – is one of the most pleasant surprises this year has brought me so far. While I enjoyed their earlier releases, the darker approach on ‘Sister’ has brought the young Swedes to a level I didn’t expect them to reach. Especially not so soon.

So this is definitely a different take on what In Solitude was doing on their first two albums. It’s not like they’re doing something radically different; the influences from Mercyful Fate and Pentagram are still clearly audible, but the Doom factor has been turned up a few notches, bringing with it a dark atmosphere, quite reminiscent of The Sisters Of Mercy or Fields Of The Nephilim without actually sounding like those bands, since this is still unmistakably Metal. In fact, the sound on this album may be closer to the Horror sound Black Sabbath was aiming for in their formative years than anything we’ve heard in a long time.

However, calling this a Doom Metal album would be somewhat misleading. Sure, there are a couple of fantastic Doom monoliths on the album in the shape of ‘A Buried Sun’ and ‘Lavender’, but it’s really dark, epic Heavy Metal you will get when you put on ‘Sister’. Save for the acoustic, ominous intro ‘He Comes’ (which actually does sound like something Fields Of The Nephilim could have done), everything fits that label. ‘Death Knows Where’ and the fantastic ‘Pallid Hands’ could even have been on predecessor ‘The World. The Flesh. The Devil’. They would have stood out as the better songs on the album though.

Other highlights include the amazing epic ‘Horses In The Ground’, which includes a guest role for former Swans singer Jarboe Living and the most exciting structure on the album, the awesome title track with its amazing guitar solo and the surprising closing track ‘Inmost Nigredo’, an unconventional composition which surprises as such.

In my review on In Solitude’s self-titled debut album for Furyrocks, I criticized Uno Bruniusson’s drumming. He is one of the most redeeming factors on this album. His rhythms are powerful and have a certain swing to them, while the analog, warm sound adds the rest. Speaking of the fitting production: many modern Metal releases have the drums and vocals way too loud on top of the rest. Pelle Åhman’s vocals are in the mix instead of on top of it, while better decipherable than on the album’s predecessor.

With ‘Sister’, In Solitude seems to have finally found their niche. The music on this album is more powerful and much more effective than anything the quintet has done so far. And in combination with the spooky album art, it’s unusually well put together as a total product. Something quite unique in the increasingly disturbing throw-away atmosphere of the western music business. Original, this is definitely not. But who cares about originality if the result is something like ‘Sister’?

Recommended tracks: ‘Horses In The Ground’, ‘Sister’, ‘Pallid Hands’, ‘A Buried Sun’

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