Even though they technically have only been around since 2004, Sweden’s ISOLE have garnered a huge following within the Doom Metal scene and most people of course know that under the banner of FORLORN Daniel Bryntse, Henka and Crister Olsson harken back to 1991, so more than enough time to hone their skills and gather the experience to shoot straight to the top of Epic Doom Metal. And the consistency in churning out high class material in such frequency is somewhere between awe-inspiring and almost uncanny, because “Silent Ruins” seamlessly continues where the previous efforts had left off.
Sweden has a very rich history in Doom, with bands such as CANDLEMASS, DRACONIAN, COUNT RAVEN, GRAND MAGUS, SORCERER and more, and ISOLE definitely deserve their name being mentioned along with the best of them, because not only do they display the necessary quality, but manage something that many bands of this style fail to achieve (if they even try) and that is dynamics. It surely is not an easy task feat to achieve, as Doom Metal has this tendency to concentrate on the slow end of the spectrum, but this quartet from Gävle spices up its melancholic sound with very varied tempos, up to double-bass speeds, which is an important part of the dynamics and equally important to pull off an 11-minute opener without dragging things out too much, but keeping things interesting, as portrayed with “From The Dark”.
Clear vocals are the predominant singing style, but here and there we also find some well-placed growls as accents and a little added spice, and while being anything but upbeat and happy sounding, ISOLE are not purveyors of pure oppressing melancholy and sadness. An interesting little detail is that two of the tracks look a little into the past of Epic Doom, “Forlorn” bearing the name of the progenitor of ISOLE and “Nightfall”, of course, being one of CANDLEMASS’ classic albums, and plan or coincidence, “Nightfall” is one of the best tracks not only on “Silent Ruins”, but of ISOLE overall. And this continues on, “Soulscarred” has this acoustic beginning that then rises in intensity (and heaviness), once more proving that Doom does not have to be synonymous with monotony or one-dimensionality, propelling the Swedes forward into the Olympus of Swedish and international Doom, which is something that closing “Dark Clouds” also excels in
Overall the cleverly implemented quiet, often acoustic breakdowns (no, not in the Metalcore sense!) are something that are a welcome oasis of tranquility amongst the melancholy and heighten the sense of atmosphere, giving us the full Epic Doom experience. “Silent Ruins” does not really show much evolution or change compared to the previous effort, but why fix what is not broken, so this is another dark jewel in the collection of ISOLE, complete with great artwork to round out the overall package. And yes, I repeat myself, 2009 is the year of Doom, no questions asked!
(Online July 10, 2009)