Finally, the weekend is upon us. What better way to kick it off than with the latest installment of "Funeral Doom Friday". For those who are new to this column; each week features a new or classic album from the realm of extreme doom. Much of funeral/death doom's might comes from an oppressive emotional weight and the use of death or black metal motifs (played at a trudging pace, of course.)
Pioneers like Mournful Congregation, Evoken, and Esoteric have mastered this blend of dirge and destruction. For 25 years, they have methodically built compositions that stretch for dozens of minutes all while keeping fans enthralled. Time has elapsed since the days of Thergothon and much like the world around us, the genre has evolved. Today's modern bands contort the very construct of the genre, breeding darkly refreshing new work. Their work thankfully gives this column plenty of material to share.
Eye of Solitude's evolution from a single-person death doom project into a full-blown funeral doom troupe has been delightful to see. The project began as Daniel Neagoe's brainchild—a personal and autonomous entity—that pulled from the beauty and sadness of Peaceville Records' earliest offerings. As the years have gone on and the cast around Neagoe continued to change, so too did Eye of Solitude's music. Neagoe himself spends time in a number of bands; the list is long and quite prolific. Perhaps his time in bands like Pantheist and Shape of Despair wriggled its way into Eye of Solitude's vision.
It certainly seemed that way with 2016's momentous Cenotaph and it is even clearer on the band's newest album, Slaves to Solitude. The latest, five-song offering is wonderfully gripping and poignant. Much of Eye of Solitude's earliest work captured this aesthetic. However, this shift into glacial trudges comparatively holds these emotions even more. The album's second track, "Still Descending" is a great example of this as is the following "Confinement."
Interestingly enough, the album closer, "Boundless SIlence," sees the band return to their death doom roots—if only for a brief moment. The track features furious, deadly rolls and riffs at roughly its midpoint. This section is bookended by somber pools of strings and the occasional rush of crash cymbals and kick drums. Neagoe's evolution into a modern titan of extreme doom comes from years of tinkering with various styles and sounds. Songs like "Boundless Silence" showcase all that he has learned and the many things he achieves in collaboration with other talented musicians.
Throughout the course of the record, he weaves dense instrumentation strong enough to bring a listener to visible emotion. Neagoe's dynamic vocal range—thunderous growls and a melancholic clean scale—create an added layer of variety to the quartet's sprawling funeral doom. Holistically speaking, Slaves to Solitude is yet another powerful example of Neagoe's doomed vision and Eye of Solitude's might.