Sunday 23 November 2014

Isole - The Calm Hunter (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 28/11/2014
Label: Cyclone Empire

‘The Calm Hunter’ CD/DD/LP track listing:

1.  The Calm Hunter (08:23)
2. Dead To Me (The Destroyer Part I) (05:44)                      
3. Into Oblivion (07:15)
4. The Eye Of Light (07:45)                                                                      
5. Perdition (06:55)
6. Alone In Silence (07:03)
7. My Regret (The Destroyer Part II) (07:57)                    


With their first releases, ISOLE were able to secure an excellent reputation within the doom metal underground. They have elevated their status even further with their three albums released by Napalm Records.

After "Born from Shadows" it was yet again time to move on and ISOLE signed with German label Cyclone Empire for album number six.

ISOLE’s new piece of art “The Calm Hunter” impressively maintains their well-earned position and lays any doubts as to their superiority to rest. The Swedish quartet understands more than any other band how to effectively merge hypnotic melodies with viscous guitar lines.

The album's main focus is undeniably the heavy riffs and ISOLE’s trademark with vocal harmonies, but also a continuation of the path leaning towards a more progressive touch along with occasional digressions into more aggressive realms, where growls and vicious drumming reign. As such, even the epic tracks remain tantalizing and require one's complete attention, so as not to miss the fine details of this musical masterpiece. The dark euphonious landscapes created on “The Calm Hunter” and the stories where death and despair always is present will haunt your minds for a long time.

The four Swedes guarantee genuine and essential progressive doom metal. Get it now and lose yourself

Isole is:

Daniel Bryntse | guitars, vocals
Jimmy Mattsson | bass, vocals
Crister Olsson | guitars, vocals
Jonas Lindström | drums


Within the first few notes of hearing the title track "The Calm Hunter", and before looking at the biography, I knew right away these guys were Swedish. There is a distinct Scandinavian metal sound, not quite Black Metal, not quite Prog, and not quite Doom.
Isole seems to blend these styles together coupled with, what I can only describe as "very European harmonies". It seems to be their knack.

They called themselves "Epic Doom", and I’m not sure if that completely fits. To my American ears, when I think of Doom, I think of tempos that are traditionally slower than what Isole is delivering.  Perhaps "Prog Doom" might be more fitting? There ARE moments in their songs where the tempo does slow right down, and is plodded along with the harmonies I spoke of earlier, only to swing back up-tempo into more of a prog-metal theme such as the second track, "Dead to Me".

Track three, ‘Into Oblivion’ starts out as much more of a "traditional doom" pacing, but quickly adds keys and adds that smearing of Scandinavian Metal sound. If you're not a fan of Black Metal, mainly because of the vocals, then Isole might just be what you're looking for. They do tend to run into the "epic" style, that somewhat reminds me of early Mercyful Fate, without King Diamonds ultra-high range, but with the same sense of almost operatic musings. 

I'll be honest; I did not fall fanatically in love with this album. However, I can quickly and easily tell you that it does have something for everyone who loves metal or heavy music in general. The guitar tones are right where they should be. Big, distorted and loud. The drums are good and snap right into double-bass beats for a few moments right where they should when the band launches into that "Swedish Metal" cut-time. Really, the question is "Will you dig the vocals", because that is where you either will or will not like Isole.

Everything else falls into place here.

The instrumentation on the album falls right into place and sounds precisely like it should. That is to say, I almost expected the guitars, drums and bass to sound exactly like they do. It works. This not to say "predictable", but rather, that they provide what is needed.

So...back to the vocals. They ARE good. The harmonies DO really work, but like all music, this is where subjectivity comes in. If you like the kind of sound where more progressive epic vocal harmonies set against a dark background gets you going, then you're going to like this band, and this latest effort. If you prefer much more growly and "traditional" vocals, you will be disappointed, but it seems like Isole have used the vocal sound as the centrepiece to the dish they are serving. I think it works, and I will totally give credit where it is due. Their sound is polished and shined up for presentation. Again that can very much work for or against them, depending on who is listening.

Words by: Mike Borsum

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