"The Shadow Tower"

By Dr. Abner Mality

For those mourning the supposed demise of Candlemass and bemoaning the inactivity of Solitude Aeturnus, the arrival of Italy's In Aevum Agere from out of nowhere will be a blessed relief. Here, at last, is a true doom metal album...not angry swamp sludge, not groovy stoner rock, not more 70's retro-occult nonsense, but a monolith of pure DOOM carved from the same stone used to fashion the giants mentioned above.

"The Shadow Tower" is Candlemass/Solitude style doom of such purity it will make your eyes water. Sure, it slavishly follows the templates of those two bands, but the execution is mind-bogglingly brilliant and I dare say I even prefer this to "Psalms for the Dead", the "last" Candlemass album. In Aevum Agere is the surprising brainchild of one Bruno Masulli, who is also responsible for the rather excellent Italian thrash band Annihilationmancer, along with some others. Bruno must really worship the doom masters of old, because right from the first doleful notes of "Umbra Vitae", we get plodding, melodic riffs that will send chills up the spine of anybody who loved "Nightfall" and "Ancient Dreams".  Bruno's vocals evoke memories of the first Candlemass singer Johan Langqvist but there are also some great solemn Gregorian style chants on "Domino" and "Il Poema Illusorio" that add to the great medieval feeling. On the restrained and gloomy ballad "Silent", he even recalls early Geoff Tate. This man is a serious talent, both vocally and on the frets.

The album shows a little bit of driving aggression in places, particularly on the last two cuts "Ire of Solitude" and "Son of Unknown", merging a bit of slower thrash chug with the slow, probing riffs. Tunes like "Leave Me Alone", "The Last Farewell" and "Act of Faith" are just fucking brilliant, utterly lacking originality but showing total mastery of a style of music that is teetering on the edge of the abyss. The production does the songs full justice and really, this is one of the best pure doom records of the year, if not THE best. Only its excessive length counts against it, making it somewhat of an exhaustive experience.

I expect to hear a Candlemass knock-off band when I first heard In Aevum Agrere, but what I didn't expect was to hear Candlemass' true heir and replacement make themselves known!