SWEDEN'S In Solitude have been in and around the scene for a while; one of those bands who have been bobbing along, occassionaly being tracked on the radar. Now with their latest album, Sister, it seems they have finally found a sound that they can claim as their own.
On their last release, The World. The Flesh. The Devil. their sound was at times derivative and despite their increasingly good live shows they were over-shadowed by supporting Grand Magus and Amon Amarth on their last outing to these shores.
However, Sister seems to be the moment in their career where the Scandanavians have managed to ascribe to themselves their own voice, their own identity and their own niche.
Produced by Martin 'Konie' Ehrencrona Sister has a more edgy, raw sound, unlike the polish of their second release. The Mercyful Fate and NWOBHM references are still there, but no longer dominate.
On Pallid Hands that 'voice' is clear. A Maiden, proto-thrash stomp with vocalist Pelle Ahman finding a pace of delivery that suits his unique intonations.
While their two previous releases had an almost faux-dark presence, this time they have managed to produce a more atmospheric, claustrophobic album.
The intro to Lavender is a perfect example of how the band's sound has matured, allowing aural space before the lead riffing and Ahman to step forward; Ahman in particular seeming to push himself further than on previous releases.
As always he has been enigmatic in his statements about the album. Here's what he said about Sister:
"It's time to release our third album, and things have never felt this clear and pervasive before. This is a feeling that has permeated our whole lives during the latest year of writing and recording this album, as well as digesting and dealing with its consequences."
"And it has been wonderful, overwhelming and utterly devastating. Which, in the world of In Solitude, are very positive things, and exactly what was required."
He continued: "It is a very special album for us, and I am very thankful and proud of my brothers (including our great friend, and producer, Martin Konie Ehrencrona), for this is truly the most visceral music we've ever made, and we can't wait for you to experience it too."
"You come without. And all falls within. There is a light in the world. There is a stone to the head."
No, we weren't at first sure what this means, but immerse yourself in this album and you (sort of) get what he's driving at.
Collaborations on Sister including Jarboe of Swans (on track Horses in the Ground) and Pelle Forsberg of Watain (on Inmost Negredo) have helped the band move on.
In particular Inmost Negredo is a track that sets this album apart from many dealing in the same territory. Described in the blurb as "near trance-like" there is a resonance of doom and an ambeince that makes for a really dark 8-minute closer; elements of soft rock, jazz licks and sludge merging in a nice opening before the night envelops in repetitive rhytmic hammering.
Inmost Negredo could be the track that defines In Solitudes future: it sets a tonality that nods to predecessors yet has its own firm identity.
Sister is the album where In Solitude have come of age; it is an album that, despite all its dark themes is an enjoyable, cathartic listen.
Sister is out now on Metal Blade.