On their third album, Finnish death-doomers Solothus have arranged an evil confluence of influences, and the stars have aligned beautifully. The coarse, unintelligible grunts of Kari Kankampää beckon towards Thergothon and dISEMBOWELMENT, the guitars belying the influence of everything from Saint Vitus to Bloodbath and beyond. The result is a strikingly melodic album given how heavy it’s trying to be, with plenty of shifting between styles. Sometimes we’re wading through pure filth (never above mid-tempo in classic Eurodeath style), but the mists will occasionally clear into suitably mournful arpeggi, recalling Dissection, including some horrifying shrieking to boot such as on ‘The Watcher’ with its (un)righteous second half. In this vein, the fourth track ‘Last Breath’ is a gentle, beautiful interlude played on clean guitar that divides the record’s two sides with but a moment’s respite – then it’s back to the grinding wheel. This diversity of influences runs the risk of spreading the ideas a little thin, but Solothus have managed to blend crushing death-doom with their more melodic inspirations succinctly.
The second half of this record is arguably stronger than the first, and that’s already saying something. ‘Below Black Waters’ mixes the grandeur of Saturnus or Candlemass perfectly with sinister melo-black guitar work for a genuinely haunting middle section, before bringing the hammer straight back down and pummelling us into submission. It’s followed by ‘Chasm of Shattered Bones’, an appropriate name given the skeleton-battering tones on offer, but there’s also tons of groove here too, giving the effect of Holy Mountain-era Sleep being crushed under the weight of a different, presumably unholy mountain. Closer A Rain of Ash is a 10-minute behemoth packed full of tasty riffs, glowering groans and a mass of throbbing, gnashing guitar noise. For all fans of being sandwiched between giant rocks, with Realm Of Ash And Blood, you’re in luck.
Realm Of Ash And Blood is out now via 20 Buck Spin and can be purchased here.
Words: David Burke