Eye Of Solitude – Cenotaph – Album Review

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Artist: Eye Of Solitude

Album Title: Cenotaph

Label: Independent Release

Date Of Release: 31 August 2016

I’m not the biggest fan of pure doom metal, but once in a while, I will succumb to it if it is good enough. And today, I have well and truly succumbed. Referring to themselves as ‘lugubrious doom metal’, London-based funeral doom quintet Eye Of Solitude create one hell of a noise and have had rather a profound impact upon me.

Formed in 2010 and now comprised of the somewhat enigmatically-named vocalist Daniel N, guitarists Mark A and Steffan G, bassist Chris D, and drummer Adriano Ferraro, Eye Of Solitude live up to their billing as they well and truly sound sad and dismal. Not only that, but they have the knack of crushing the listener with uncompromising monolithic-paced riffing one minute, and then opening up into something intense and gorgeous the next.

‘Cenotaph’ is an album consisting of just four songs. However, as each has a running time of over ten minutes apiece, the record has a total length that approaches the hour mark. This gives you a good indication of what to expect but far from being overwhelmed or indeed underwhelmed, I find myself ensconced in the bludgeoning beauty and sheer unrelenting intensity, easily ready to press play again the moment ‘Cenotaph’ comes to an end.

‘Cenotaph’ opens with the title track and initially, I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. For several minutes, the guitars churn and writhe, almost in slow motion. Like a river of lava, the bruising riffs keep coming, inching forward and relentlessly destroying all in their path. They are joined by a voice that, by all accounts, took a day off from maiming and torturing souls in the pits of hell to ‘sing’ on this record. Deep, guttural growls that are occasionally barely audible over the guitars add a further layer of brutality, conveying a sinister, malevolent despair and anguish.

There are moments of intensity where the drums are concerned, although the instrument is used sparingly for large parts, acting as an embellishment or as a vague metronomic beat, out on the periphery much of the time. The use of simple synths to underpin the riffs and provide a modicum of softening atmosphere is a good move too, a welcome addition to the uncompromising tumult elsewhere, even though they create another layer of despondency.

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Out of nowhere, clean vocals join a prolonged quiet synth passage before the hitherto suffocating composition opens up like a delicate flower in the spring sunlight. The pace isn’t increased but the melodic intent certainly is. The lead guitar-led melody is stunning in its fragility and simplicity, to a point where I am utterly smitten and entranced on a first spin, a feeling that just intensifies over repeated listens.

Each of the four tracks has very much its own identity but there is a definite pattern within them all. Each features those brutal slow-paced riffs, atmospheric keyboards, guttural growls and at certain points, an injection of sumptuous melody.

The synths open up ‘A Sombre Guest’ with the promise of an inner beauty before the bludgeoning begins. This time however, the early presence of melody is carried through the entirety of the track, even when the doom metal is at its most severe and bruising. I also love the cinematic and brooding mid-section that acts as a breather, not to mention a heightening of the drama and an increase in the melancholy inherent within the composition. When the riffs re-enter the fray, their impact is all the greater, coaxed along by grandiose and epic synths that are inspired. Hell, I like this.

It takes a while for ‘This Goodbye. The Goodbye’ to launch into all-out funeral doom mode, as the early stages are dominated by dark, cloying atmospheres. And, whilst I enjoy the heavier parts of this track, the most striking part has to be the lone piano that plays a mournful dirge atop the sounds of a windswept and lonely vista, only to be replaced unceremoniously by pained cries and forlorn shrieks which accompany the returning brutality and borderline musical discordance.

‘Cenotaph’ is then closed out by ‘Loss’ that features more great intense doom riffs. However, like the predecessor, it is another section of the track which catches my attention. This time it is the extended section of emotional-sounding clean vocals that is worthy of plenty of praise. Mind you, the ensuing melody that wraps itself around the riffs to create something truly epic and majestic is equally wonderful and fulfilling. The blastbeat drums are a nice touch even if they sound a touch plastic and devoid of anything approaching an organic feel. But to focus on that would detract from the sheer beauty and majesty of this composition.

All-in-all, I am nothing but thoroughly impressed by Eye Of Solitude and ‘Cenotaph’. It has come out of nowhere to quite easily become one of the best, if not the best, doom metal albums of 2016. I simply cannot get enough of the inspired mix of brutality and sombre beauty. Now, if Eye Of Solitude can continue to produce music of this quality over future albums, in direct contrast to their output, their future might be very rosy indeed.

The Score Of Much Metal: 8.5

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others via my reviews pages or by clicking the links right here:

Insomnium – Winter’s Gate
Seven Impale – Contrapasso
DGM – The Passage
Pressure Points – False Lights
In The Woods – Pure
Devin Townsend – Transcendence
The Pineapple Thief – Your Wilderness
Evergrey – The Storm Within
Dream The Electric Sleep – Beneath The Dark Wide Sky
Periphery – ‘Periphery III: Select Difficulty’
Karmakanic – Dot
Novena – Secondary Genesis
Witherscape – The Northern Sanctuary
Eric Gillette – The Great Unknown
Tilt – Hinterland
Cosmograf – The Unreasonable Silence
Fates Warning – Theories Of Flight
Wolverine – Machina Viva
Be’lakor – Vessels
Lacuna Coil – Delirium
Big Big Train – Folklore
Airbag – Disconnected
Katatonia – The Fall Of Hearts
Frost* – Falling Satellites
Glorior Belli – Sundown (The Flock That Welcomes)
Habu – Infinite
Grand Magus ‘Sword Songs’
Messenger – Threnodies
Svoid – Storming Voices Of Inner Devotion
Fallujah – Dreamless
In Mourning – Afterglow
Haken – Affinity
Long Distance Calling – Trips
October Tide – Winged Waltz
Odd Logic – Penny For Your Thoughts
Iron Mountain – Unum
Knifeworld – Bottled Out Of Eden
Novembre – Ursa
Beholder – Reflections
Neverworld – Dreamsnatcher
Universal Mind Project – The Jaguar Priest
Thunderstone – Apocalypse Again
InnerWish – Innerwish
Mob Rules – Tales From Beyond
Ghost Bath – Moonlover
Spiritual Beggars – Sunrise To Sundown
Oceans Of Slumber – Winter
Rikard Zander – I Can Do Without Love
Redemption – The Art Of Loss
Headspace – All That You Fear Is Gone
Chris Quirarte – Mending Broken Bridges
Sunburst – Fragments Of Creation
Inglorious – Inglorious
Omnium Gatherum – Grey Heavens
Structural Disorder – Distance
Votum – Ktonik
Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
Rikard Sjoblom – The Unbendable Sleep
Textures – Phenotype
Serenity – Codex Atlanticus
Borknagar – Winter Thrice
The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
Brainstorm – Scary Creatures
Arcade Messiah – II
Phantasma – The Deviant Hearts
Rendezvous Point – Solar Storm
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II
Antimatter – The Judas Table
Bauda – Sporelights
Waken Eyes – Exodus
Earthside – A Dream In Static
Caligula’s Horse – Bloom
Teramaze – Her Halo
Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud
Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle
Agent Fresco – Destrier
Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic
Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches
Disarmonia Mundi – Cold Inferno
District 97 – In Vaults
Progoctopus – Transcendence
Big Big Train – Wassail
NightMare World – In The Fullness Of Time
Helloween – My God-Given Right
Triaxis – Zero Hour
Isurus – Logocharya
Arcturus – Arcturian
Kamelot – Haven
Native Construct – Quiet World
Sigh – Graveward
Pantommind – Searching For Eternity
Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar
Klone – Here Comes The Sun
The Gentle Storm – The Diary
Melechesh – Enki
Enslaved – In Times
Keep Of Kalessin – Epistemology
Lonely Robot – Please Come Home
The Neal Morse Band – The Grand Experiment
Zero Stroke – As The Colours Seep
AudioPlastik – In The Head Of A Maniac
Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints
Mors Principium Est – Dawn of The 5th Era
Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah
Triosphere – The Heart Of The Matter
Neonfly – Strangers In Paradise
Knight Area – Hyperdrive
Haken – Restoration
James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld

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