Solitude Aeturnus – Through The Darkest Hour ( Review Request )   Leave a comment

Solitude Aeturnus are American doom metal legends that was started back the in spring of 1987 as Solitude, in Arlington, Texas. In their 23 years in existence, they have only ever released 6 studio albums which is properly the biggest tragedy in the history of doom metal. While they have been incredibly slow at releasing albums, they have been consistently brilliant as every album is an undisputed classic. Even their weakest album, “Downfall” which was marred by production woes more than anything else still wipes the floor with most other doom metal albums. I would even go as far as to say, they are the most consistent doom metal ever put on this earth, not in quantity but in sheer quality. When you consider that Solitude Aeturnus vocalist Robert Lowe’s other band, “Candlemass” (who?) is thought of by many as being the worlds premier doom metal act and yet have done some very average albums in my opinion. The album, “Through The Darkest Hour” follows two other monumental releases, “Into the Depths of Sorrow” and “Beyond the Crimson Horizon” which all recorded within a 4 year period which brings me back to my opening comments, 3 albums by 1994 and only another 3 recordings since is a poor effort that can’t really be excused, label problems or not it is a sad situation. However there is no denying how great all their albums are and “Through The Darkest Hour” and their last album, “Alone” released in 2006 stand out in my book as their two best albums and their most doom. Solitude Aeturnus were on a roll by 1994 and I blame the band along with Saint Vitus and the first Cathedral album for my total and utter addiction to doom metal.

Perfection is a word that gets thrown around pretty loosely these days by fans and critics but this album is really about as good as it will ever get within the doom metal genre. The line-up of the band back then was much different to what it is now but they were as equally exceptional musicians as the current members. Recorded May 1994 at Rhythm Studios, Bidford on Avon, Warwickshire, England and produced by the band and Paul Johnston, the sound on this album was a monster unleashed. What happened musically is they took the style of the first two albums and perfected it, added more Sabbathian elements, slow things down even further and increased the gloomy atmosphere making it one hell of a dark record. The main 2 men of the band, John Perez and Robert Lowe both hit their peak as songwriters and they have stayed there ever since. From the opener, “Falling” with its heavy groove and compelling lead breaks to the closing “Shattered My Spirit” with its epic doom balladry complete with acoustic intro and outro, this album is back to back captivating classic metal. John Perez said in the interview on their “Hour Of Despair” DVD that he wanted to make, “metal that would stand the test of time” and his wish came true with this beast. “The 8th Day: Mourning” and “The 9th Day: Awakening” add up to over 11 minutes of some of the most emotionally draining doom metal ever, “The 9th Day: Awakening” has always stood head and shoulders above most other doom metal for its use of Middle Eastern melodies and there is even sitar to back up the atmosphere. It might seem like a strange choice of instrument for a doom band but Solitude Aeturnus make it sound natural. “Haunting the Obscure” is another standout tune pushing the emotional epic doom vibe to heights most bands can only dream of.

The song “Pain” is another majestic moment in the career of SA with more amazing heavy grooves and Lowe sounding more ethereal than ever before and lyrically it is mesmerizing. “Pawns of Anger” and the ever so crushing “Eternal (Dreams Part II)” is two of the best songs they ever did and yet they are regarded as “obscure tracks”, this shows the strength of this album. “Perfect Insanity” is the albums most aggressive moment especially in verses – like the lyrics, “Exhume the force conception, Bodies dead since birth, Your life is prostitution, It’s payment is a curse”. This album has everything you could ask for in a doom metal album, subdued to aggressive parts, incredibly captivating melodies, heavy as f**k riffs delivered from thick, warm guitars from Perez and it top it off some of the best guitar solos ever put down on tape. John doesn’t over-play, he doesn’t under-play nor does he go overboard at trying to show off, he records what is perfect for the song and is an expert at playing solos that don’t take away or distract you from the mood of the song, sheer perfection!  The rest of the band is on fire too, the other guitarist Edgar Rivera compliments John Perez perfectly and Lyle on bass did a stellar job at supplying heavy-duty low-end bass rumble. Then of course you have the mesmerizing vocals from Robert Lowe who is without a doubt the premier front-man/vocalist in doom metal history, no one comes close in my book of doom. The control he has on this vocal range is hypnotic, reaching for high wails one minute only to take it down to subdued melodicism the next.

Fans of all forms of doom should own every Solitude Aeturnus album by now but for newbies to the genre and SA, this is an ideal place to start. While this album is indeed dark and depressing, it is also a powerful example of how dramatic and artistic you can get within the doom metal genre but it is more than just that, it is classic metal that traditional heavy metal fans can adore for decades to come. 1990-1994 was a magical time for doom metal and Solitude Aeturnus were one of the bands that made it that way. While that era is sadly dead and gone, albums like “Through The Darkest Hour” will live on forever and it just keeps on getting better with age. It was re-released in 2008 by Metal Mind Productions in digipack format with bonus live tracks and that is a great version to get if you can find it as it was limited to just 2000 copies at the time of release. Whatever format you buy, this is essential doom metal…….10/10
Solitude Aeturnus @ Myspace
John Perez @ Myspace
Robert Lowe @ Myspace
Solitude Aeturnus Official Forum

And for a bit of trivia, Solitude Aeturnus has recorded several cover versions on tribute albums including, “No More Tears” – Legend of a Madman – A Tribute to Ozzy Osbourne (1998),  “Hallowed Be Thy Name” – A Call to Irons: A Tribute to Iron Maiden (1998), “Shame on the Night” – Holy Dio: A Tribute to Ronnie James Dio (2000) and they have also recorded a cover of “The Well Of Souls” by Candlemass.

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Posted October 29, 2010 by doommantia in Solitude Aeturnus

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