Before I started listening to this album, the first thing I thought of was: "funny they gave it the name Sister, there's an old Sonic Youth album with the same name!" But as it happens they are not a Pitchfork-friendly indie re-hash band, but a pure, no-nonsense heavy metal band from Sweden.
After an unusually compelling introduction on "He Comes", we are brought into a rocking, riff-laden hook-fest with "Death Knows Where". One strength that becomes immediately clear is Pelle Åhman's voice, which is perfectly suited for a classic heavy metal sound. His low-to-mid range allows him to sing in a way that's epic-sounding without coming off as silly.
For this achievement alone, the man probably deserves a medal. His voice reminded me of The Cult's Ian Astbury, My Dying Bride's Aaron Stainthorpe, or perhaps a less-mopey Robert Smith who decided to start singing for a metal band. In addition to this, I was extremely impressed with the rest of the band, especially Niklas Lindström and Henrik Palm's talent for crafting righteous riffs throughout the entire album.
Forgoing the blast beats and breakdowns common with much of contemporary metal, In Solitude relies on their ability to compose a great song with fully developed verses, choruses, and bridges that flow together in a very entertaining and compelling way. When I saw A Buried Sun come on, I was a little worried by the 7:22 song length. But to my pleasant surprise, the song was excellent from start to finish.
And in fact, I could probably say the same for the entire album, undeniably one of the essential releases of 2013. Though the album contains barely a blemish on it, my favorite song at the moment would have to be the title-track. The riffs spiral in your head, and the chorus lines echo around you:
And the hour begins
Night was no longer as we knew her
The ailing hour became the way
That said, I'm sure there are some readers who are rightly scared at the entire idea of a neo-classic heavy metal band, as it conjures images of bands who are either hopelessly derivative or simply unbearable in their cheesiness. Far from either of these terrible cliche's, In Solitude has somehow made the old, evil Mercyful Fate-style sound fresh all over again. They have great riffs, great melodies, memorable songs, and yes, that all-important quality: identity. And by that I mean that when you listen to them, you know who it is, and you're damn glad to hear it.
Favorite Songs: "Death Knows Where", "A Buried Sun", "Sister", "Inmost Nigredo"