"Born From Shadows"

By Earthdog

The river Isole flows through Finistère in the region of Brittany in France, near Roudouallec. Another town on the Isole is Scaër. At the town of Quimperlé it is joined by the Ellé to form the Laïta that flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Le Pouldu. I imagine that is where this band from Sweden got their name from but I could be wrong; just think of it as a little geography lesson for you all. Isole are one of those curious bands I have been listening to for a long-time but still know very little about really. I know they formed in 2004 and used to be called Forlorn and band members, past and present have played in bands such as Undivine, Ereb Altor, Morannon, Complicity, Nightchant and Withered Beauty. I have also been hearing for years what an incredible live band they are. The live-reports always say the band are highly professional and are one of the very best Swedish doom-acts to see in a live-setting.

Their studio output ,though, got off to a shaky start in my opinion with the début, 'Forevermore' released in 2005 but then they turned it all around for a stellar release the following year with the 'Throne of Void' album. That album got compared to the likes of Solstice and Candlemass but they also had their own, unique individuality. From 2006 onwards, they have been on a bit of a roll. Great albums in 2008 and 2009 with 'Bliss of Solitude' and 'Silent Ruins' and then they went a bit quiet apart from a split release they did with Semlah in 2010. So I have looked forward for a new full-length album for too long now but the promo arrived in my inbox and I couldn't be happier. This album titled 'Born From Shadows' is another high-quality release from a band that can't seem to do wrong. The band has always worn its influences on their sleeves and are proud of it. The band is still in the vein of Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus but personally I hope they never change. While there is many more original bands in the doom-metal scene, there is few as constantly good as Isole.

Isole are text-book traditional doom-metal, no more, no less and if you are an experienced listener of trad-doom bands, then you will know exactly what to expect but what sets Isole head and shoulders above many others is their use of compelling, haunting melodies that have been the focus of most of their albums so far. This album is no different but the melodies seem even more captivating and dare I say, infectious on this record. Of course, people who are not in love with the doom genre in the same way as me wouldn't understand the use of the term "infectious" when describing a 'doom act' but there is a certain, almost indefinable something that great doom-metal bands have that black, death and thrash bands just don't and never will. Isole are a perfect example of this musical phenomenon; simply put, the riffs, melodies and vocals send a chill up the spine and are emotionally gut-wrenching.

They have a spectacular vocalist and guitarist in Daniel Bryntse who sings in the Rob Lowe tradition and does it with total emotion. He also has the uncanny knack of conveying the mournful sadness needed to sell a melancholic doom tune. But vocals aside for a while, what about the music on this album? There are 7 songs, mostly epic with most ranging from 7 to 10 minutes and it has no real filler. It does have a couple of passages that drag but these are short-lived and a minor disruption to this very solid album. The musicianship is excellent as always but they sound even more sophisticated now. The guitar work could be considered 'generic' in doom terms but the strong melodies and variations within each song keep this album interesting.

Isole are 100% doom-metal but they do bring in elements of more extreme styles of metal in small but very effective doses. Of course, you get the death growls - pretty typical for doom bands these days but there is also black-metal tinged riffing in places too but never once does it sound like a hybrid of styles, it still reeks of crushing doom with melody. Even when the drumming picks up the pace, it still sounds like a doom band even though some of the drumming is actually pretty fast. On the other side of the coin, they are not afraid in blend in goth elements that are similar to My Dying Bride; so it is a fairly diverse album overall. These songs are mostly straight-forward in the traditional sense but they also have more complex, proggy elements, although it took a couple of spins before I really became aware of the songs intricacies. This album takes a few spins before you can really get to know it and appreciate it fully.

Highlights: 'The Lake,' 'Black Hours,' 'My Angel' and the title track, 'Born From Shadows' but really, every track is very good. Fans of classic traditional doom-metal should find this a worthy addition to their collection. The official release date is October 28th and is going to be on the Napalm Records label - mark it on your calendars now.................9/10.