Review by Jason Guest
Album number three is where bands usually establish their sound. It’s the point in the band’s development where whatever was threatened by a band’s debut and reasserted by their sophomore effort is harnessed and concentrated into what often becomes that yardstick against which subsequent releases are measured. Master of Reality, The Number of the Beast, Master of Puppets, Among The Living, Reign in Blood, all albums that set the standard not just for the bands that made them but still stand strong today as defining moments in metal and its development. With album number three, Sister, it looks like In Solitude are to follow a similar path.
Their 2008 eponymous debut was an impressive work and the comparisons with Mercyful Fate, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden were more complimentary than what such comparisons are usually reserved for. Those influences were there, yes, but In Solitude’s own voice was stamped all over the ten devil-worshipping metal anthems that it comprised. The World. The Flesh. The Devil. saw In Solitude making leaps and bounds in the direction that their debut established. Their 70s/80s metal influences fully digested, their arsenal of galloping riffs, twin guitar work, and Hornper’s wailing metal melodies was honed to near-perfection. And so, continuing with their steady diet of denim, leather, spandex, dead animals, and devil-worship has proved fruitful for these Swedes because Sister sees the band realising the sound that’s been developing since their inception, exploring and exploiting its every aspect and evolving far beyond what may have been expected.
While melodic and haunting, Hornper’s vocal performance imbues his poetic and evocative lyrics with a deep sense of the dramatic and passionate, their esoteric subtleties emerging with his every enunciation. Both may appear an acquired taste, at least initially, but the manner in which Hornper has given himself to the music and his muse is darkly seductive and we are drawn deeper into the band’s world. That’s not to imply that the instrumentalists play a mere supportive role for Hornper; far from it. The sense of unity, of completeness, of individual sacrifice for the greater good – or should that be evil? – is palpable. Musically, the band have outdone themselves. From the haunting persistence of acoustic opener ‘He Comes’ through the determined and driven ‘Death Knows Where’ into the seven-minute epic ‘ A Buried Sun’, the textures are rich and varied and the atmospheres as intense as they are curiously light. Where darkness lies, In Solitude shed light, the sinister forces once concealed are foregrounded and overshadow that which was erroneously taken to be the one true path. And so it continues, In Solitude’s individualistic path unfolding as the album proceeds.
An album that will surprise as much as it will astound, there’s a sort of dirty feel to the record, one that makes listening to it feel dangerous, as if the devil or some ghost-like entity from another dimension may actually appear to reveal a glimpse of the truths from which we are banished. That’s what metal should be, and that’s what Sister is. Essential.
8.5 out of 10
- He Comes
- Death Knows Where
- A Buried Sun
- Pallid Hands
- Horses In The Ground
- Inmost Nigredo