Review by Daniel for Solitude Aeturnus - Into the Depths of Sorrow (1991) Review by Daniel for Solitude Aeturnus - Into the Depths of Sorrow (1991)

Daniel Daniel / February 10, 2024 / 0

Dallas-based epic doom metal masters Solitude Aeturnus really surprised me with their 2006 "Alone" sixth full-length when Ben selected it for The Fallen feature release status some time ago. I'd previously allowed the band to pass me by but that record ticked all of my boxes & saw me claiming it as a genuine doom metal classic for the ages. Since that time I've always intended on exploring the rest of Solitude Aeturnus' more highly celebrated releases & thought I'd take this opportunity to kick that exercise off with their debut full-length "Into The Depths Of Sorrow" which is generally regarded as one of the elite examples of the niche subgenre overall.

In many ways "Into The Depths Of Sorrow" is the quintessential epic doom metal release in that it perfectly embodies the sound that the tag was originally created to label. All of the subgenres calling cards are here. Crushing doom riffs? CHECK! A strong classic heavy metal influence? CHECK! Theatrical power metal style vocals? CHECK! Soaring, shredtastic guitar solos? CHECK! A generally epic atmosphere? CHECK! I can't deny that the album is everything it said it would be on the tin & if that description sounds like something that'd appeal to you then you won't be disappointed but it did take me a couple of listens to get fully into for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I'm a much bigger doom fan than I am a heavy metal one & the heavy metal component is particularly prevalent here with those riffs being pretty standard heavy metal fodder & nothing particularly exciting so I find myself waiting around for the doom to return which it inevitably does & with devastating effect too. There's obviously a lot of Candlemass influence on show as this was Solitude Aeturnus' first full-length & Candlemass were, of course, the creators & clear leaders of the epic doom movement so there are clear similarities in the way the two bands go about their craft but the area that Solitude Aeturnus fall down in as far as that comparison goes is in the guitar solos as Edgar Rivera & John Perez aren't quite as virtuosic in their capabilities. Thankfully, the general quality of the song-writing is very strong & the vocals of future Candlemass, Concept of God & Tyrant front man Robert Lowe are exceptional which has gone a long way to seeing me crowning Solitude Aeturnus as my favourite band from the epic doom movement overall regardless.

The tracklisting kicks off in very solid fashion indeed with the short intro track "Dawn of Antiquity (A Return to Despair)" building the atmosphere nicely before the first proper song "Opaque Divinity" kicks in & wastes no time in flexing its muscles. It's followed by "Transcending Sentinels" which is clearly the least impressive track on the album in my opinion but is still pretty decent. The remaining five songs are all very strong indeed though & round out a particularly consistent album with no real blemishes. The reason I don't see "Into The Depths Of Sorrow" competing with "Alone" for bragging rights as my favourite epic doom metal release any time soon is that it doesn't contain as many genuine classics. The utterly mind-blowing "Mirror of Sorrow" is the clear highlight of the album & is frankly one of the best examples of the subgenre I've experienced to date but none of the other material comes close to matching it with the brilliant doom passages regularly having their impact offset a bit by some flatter heavy metal chug riffs. It's a shame really as I think there was a lot of potential for another classic release here if a bit of quality control had been employed.

At the end of the day though, I can't be too critical as "Into The Depths Of Sorrow" is still an impressively consistent first-up effort from one of the leaders of the movement. In fact, I'd go so far as to suggest that it's eclipsed all but "Alone" & Candlemass' classic "Nightfall" album in reaching my personal top three for the subgenre overall which is quite an accolade when you consider the areas of improvement I highlighted above. The experience has certainly left me wondering whether Solitude Aeturnus have managed to top their debut over the course of their next four records so I've penciled a couple of them in for exploration in the not too distant future. In the meantime though, "Into The Depths Of Sorrow" should be essential listening for all of you Candlemass, Solstice & Isole fans out there.

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