Album Review: EYE OF SOLITUDE Canto III
The last two months of the year are usually pretty sparse when it comes to the amount and quality of heavy metal releases. One would think the holiday season would be jammed with good albums to capitalize on the extra spending money metalheads have thanks to Christmakwanzanzakkah, but that's rarely the case. So it's a nice surprise that Eye of Solitude's Canto III arrived to sap away some of that extra cash burning a hole in your pocket.
Eye of Solitude are an English funeral doom band that incorporate elements of death metal into their music. That description may not sound very appealing since it sums up roughly 75% of all funeral doom bands, but Eye Of Solitude separate themselves from the chaff with compelling song compositions that go beyond the typical 4/4 slog of nihilism that most of their contemporaries churn out.
Canto III, which is a concept album based on Dante's Inferno, isn't revolutionary in any sense, but it's undoubtedly a great funeral doom album. Although there's plenty of depression and melancholy for you misery fetishists out there, the band work in some memorable melodies and honest-to-goodness major key guitar solos, too. The frequent shifts in tone lend emotional depth to the music, and the end result is an album that makes you feel as if you've actually gone on a journey once it's finished.
The sheer density of Canto III can be overwhelming. Orchestral keys are swallowed by massive, plodding riffs which then break down into melancholic piano parts all within the same song. The vocals are as varied as the music. Daniel Neagor frequently switches between low death growls and blackened screaming to convey different emotions. There are also some guest vocals courtesy of Anton Rosa from Russia's Dominia.
Rosa's vocal performances are mostly spoken and can get really over the top as he tries to convey a sense of agony in his words. It works to an extent, but he often risks veering into overwrought melodrama with his vocalizations; especially on "Act I: Between Two Worlds," and "Act III: He Who Willingly Suffers."
With Canto III, Eye of Solitude were really swinging for the fences. The album is definitely an improvement over 2012's already good Sui Caedere, but adapting Dante's Inferno into an hour long funeral doom album is a herculean task. The band largely succeeds in creating an atmosphere of awe, dread, and misery which suits the literary source material, but the album can get disorienting at times, especially if you listen to it in chunks instead of as a continuous composition.
The band jammed as much as they possibly could into Canto III and, for better or for worse, it shows. The album doesn't live up to it's literary predecessor, but its a good record for anyone looking for something a little more adventurous than standard funeral doom fare.