Doom Metal masters Solitude Aeturnus were in their early years disciples of bands as disparate as Candlemass and Fates Warning. Over the years they lost the influences and by the time of their album before this, "Adagio", seemed to have come up with what seemed an often entirely different sound (one that needed at least another album to anti-bug). In a surprising turn that ultimately produced the Doom Metal album of the 21st century, the band decided to reincorporate the classic Candlemass and Sabbath influences for "Alone", but this time integrating them with the most distinctive aspects of their own, established sound.
Alone is an album that is striking from beginning to finish, but I want to briefly touch on what might be the centerpiece, opener "Scent of Death". This track, leading us past Mesopotamian Gates made of Sabbath Stones, over Charon and into the land of the wizard's own, hazardous stone tower, is carried by a sound and flow that is most indicative of the album as a whole. Mesmerizing vocals, refreshingly imaginative in their note-choices, range of delivery, and arrangements; even offering impassioned, dramatic homage to the Adhanic (one can cross-reference Robert's Middle Eastern-sounding vocal excursions with the Arabic-sounding singing behind, say, the first scene of the Exorcist). The way the vocals work with the engaging verse/pre-chorus/chorus arrangements is just addicting and perfectly a propos to the song. And yes, you get plenty of guitar, fellow players, more than a bit in the classic Uli Roth/Iommi/Blackmore mode.
As mentioned, many of the above strengths apply to a great deal of the rest of the album. There are so many great riffs, woven together so maturely that it's hard to abstract them from the songs as a whole; yet rest assured there are plenty of riffs that reverberate very strongly within the psyche, and Robert Lowe's entrancing Arabiscisms will occupy that same space as well.
I won't go into detail regarding Robert Lowe's lyrics, as they are best experienced with the music playing, but I must point out that they are understated/underblown for a reason. The degree of self-immersion these lyrics are portraying is best delineated as succinctly as possible, the music handles the details.
My impression of this album remains one of gratitude. I think Robert's lyrics, vocals, and John's music just aligned somewhere in the sphere of Black Metallic Rainbow on this CD to make a work of masterfully Epic Metal proportions; the most involving, rewarding, memorable Doom Metal album since the untouchable Nightfall, and even a notch above the often terrific music Fr. Lowe made during his tenure with Candlemass. I paid the high import price for the bonus track version of the cd, to be without that track would definitely take away from the experience, so please be sure to track it down so you don't cheat yourself.